We have our own little organic fertilizer factory which provides us with a potent plant food, free mulch and a compost activator ….its called COMFREY! It’s easy to grow, easy to use and really benefcial to the garden.
The children are taught about the dangers of feeding plants with chemicals fertilisers and learn that the comfrey plant can be used in many ways to help the food we eat grow strong and healthy without polluting the soil and harming us.
We teach the children in a simple way that the foundation of organic gardening rests on improving the garden soil either by adding compost from our compost bins or adding organic fertlisers. Healthy soil produces healthy food!
Comfrey is a perennial herb with long tap roots. It has long been recognised by organic gardeners and herbalists for its amazing properties.
Bocking 14 is propagated from root cuttings and does not self seed so it does not grow out of control.
Comfrey contains allantoin which is an active ingredient in the roots and leaves of the plant – the root having more than the leaves. Comfrey contains high levels of essential nutrients required for plant growth – (NPK) Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It also contains 18 amino acids, Vitamins A, C and B complex, protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, sulphur, copper, zinc, selenium and fibre.
There are several ways to use comfrey in the garden. The first cut is ideal for preparing the ground before planting the potatoes. I place a layer of wilted comfrey leaves in a trench where the potatoes are to be planted. This quickly rots down to provide nutrition for the crop. I usually use about 2lb of comfrey per foot of trench. Trials conducted by L D Hills at HDRA have shown that comfrey provides increased yields in potatoes compared with manure, compost or “Growmore” artificial fertiiser.
Freshly cut comfrey leaves make good mulch because of their high nitrogen content. The leaves don’t extract nitrogen from the soil whilst decomposing, as straw and leaves do. Comfrey’s high potassium content makes it very beneficial for flowers, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
Shred comfrey leaves and mix with leaf mold to produce a balanced soil for pot plants, although this would be too strong for seedlings.
I cram as many comfrey leaves into a hessian sacks and secure the opening. Wear gloves when working with fresh comfrey leaves as they can irritate the skin. I place the sacks in water butts and allow the rain water to collect in the barrel. This needs to be done as far away from the house as possible as it smells dreadful!! After about 3 – 4 weeks the “tea” will be ready to tap off.
This liquid now needs to be diluted down to a ratio of 10:1. You now have a fabulous organic fertiliser. The awful smell quickly disappears – I promise!
Apply comfrey tea as a side-dressing or foliar spray. When using as a foliar spray stop applying to plants at least a month before harvesting. As a foliar spray it has been found to slow the growth of powdery mildew spores on plant leaves.
I have 12 water butts dedicated for making my comfrey “tea” which is constantly “on the go” during the growing season. When the “tea” is ready I store the concentrated liquid in 25 litre containers so I always have a good supply. The sludgy leaves from the Hessian sacks are either composted or scattered onto my worm beds.
Comfrey makes an excellent hot composting boost if you have the right balance of green and brown shredded material. Just add the fresh comfrey leaves and stems in as you add other materials to your pile.
The roots and leaves of the comfrey plant contain a substance called allantoin. Comfrey relieves pain and inflammation caused by injury and degeneration. It is the allantoin that gives comfrey its healing qualities. Comfrey is one of the best known healing herbs of all times and has been used for centuries for its bone mending qualities. It is also highly beneficial for healing wounds. It should always be applied topically in a salve, ointment or poultice for treating burns, sprains, sore joints and to reduce the swelling associated with fractures.
Comfrey should never be taken internally as it has been found to contain trace amounts of toxic alkaloids which can damage the liver if taken in large quantities over a long period of time.
We sell comfrey products in The Beehive or online www.cultivated-comfrey.co.uk