Comfrey is a fantastic perennial herb that you can plant in your veggie patch and make your own fertilizer from. It grows very quickly and can be quite tall so it should be given a bit of room but as you’ll soon discover, cutting it back regularly can keep it under control. Just be aware though that comfrey has a very active root system, so if you want to remove it completely you will need to dig out all the roots otherwise the plant will just regrow. It’s probably best to plant it in a spot where you don’t mind it growing forever. For this reason though its really easy to propagate comfrey if you find you want more than one plant in the garden simply by removing a piece of healthy root from your existing plant and planting it in the new spot. Remember to give it a little nitrogen fertilizer at first just to boost it along until the root system is fully formed.
Comfrey contains high levels of all the essential nutrients for plant growth especially Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium as well as other trace elements. Comfrey has a deep growing root system and thereby draws up available nutrients situated in the subsoil. I have some planted in my herb garden and over the winter months, before I cut it back, the herbs growing around it grew amazingly well without me having to add any additional fertilizer.
Apart from being a very useful plant to grow, comfrey is also an attractive addition to any veggie patch with its large deep green leaves and masses of pink/purple flowers usually in the spring. Once the plant has finished flowering it can be cut right back to 2 inches above ground level but remember to wear gloves when handling the leaves as the hairs on the leaves and stem can irritate the skin. Due to its vigorous growth you’ll probably find that you can cut it back more than once a year and it will re-grow quickly. It does like a good watering though so make sure it doesn’t dry out too much as this will slow its growth.
Here are some excellent uses for those huge leaves that you’ve cut back:
- Mulch – leaves which have been left to wilt for a couple of days can be piled around other growing vegetables as a nutrient rich mulch which will break down and feed the plants.
- Mixed in to freshly prepared ground which you are getting ready to plant your new crop. Once again the leaves will break down and fertilize the growing plants.
- Liquid Fertilizer – In a large bucket which has a lid, place the comfrey leaves. Put a brick or stone on top of the leaves to weigh them down and fill the bucket with water. Remember to put a lid on the bucket as the liquid can get a bit of an odor from the leaves breaking down. Let this sit for at least 3-4 weeks and you can then use this ‘tea’ for a foliar fertilizer. It is probably wise to water the tea down further by mixing with one part ‘tea’ to three parts water to avoid burning the leaves of tender plants. If the ‘tea’ concentrate is very dark you may need to dilute it even further up to 10 parts of water. Your liquid fertilizer should look like very weak tea.
- In Potting Mixes – the leaves can be shredded and added to a good potting mix as a natural fertilizer for your potted plants.
- To Aid Composting – add some leaves and the stems and flower stalks to your compost. As comfrey contains high levels of nitrogen it adds a great booster to your compost as nitrogen increases microbial decomposition.
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