Why You Should Plant Comfrey In Your Veggie or Herb Patch

Why You Should Plant Comfrey In Your Veggie or Herb Patch

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. Therefore, you should give it a bit of room. But, 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 it’s 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.

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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.

Regular Cutting Back Is Essential

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Comfrey Flowers

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.

Using The Leaves

Here are some excellent uses for those huge leaves that you’ve cut back:

  • Mulch – you can place the leaves on the ground and let them wilt for a couple of days. You can then pile these around other growing vegetables as a nutrient-rich mulch which will break down and feed the plants.
  • Mixed into 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 that 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.

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Comfrey Leaves
  • In Potting Mixes – you can shred the leaves and add them to a premium 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is comfrey good for the garden?

Comfrey contains high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which is what most plants need for optimum growth. Using the leaves can add these nutrients to your soil and keep your garden thriving. This plant is a fantastic organic fertiliser which is great for both your vegetable garden and around your fruit trees.

Is comfrey good for treating plant diseases?

There has been research conducted that has shown that a solution made with comfrey and water can be useful in preventing powdery mildew.

What was comfrey used for in ancient times?

In times past, the root of the comfrey plant was used for its medicinal properties. It was commonly used to treat muscle and joint problems. This is because it is said that the plant has anti-inflammatory properties.

Final Thoughts

Comfrey is one of those plants that every vegetable gardener should be growing. It has so many benefits to both the soil and the other plants growing in your garden.

Just a word of caution though. While comfrey is excellent for your garden, it should not be consumed as ingesting the plant has caused liver damage and cancerous tumours in rates.

However, using this plant as an organic fertiliser for your vegetables is highly beneficial and will keep your crops thriving.

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