Comfrey is a remarkable plant which every garden should grow
If you have a garden, grow comfrey! Comfrey has very deep roots, which means it can get at nutrients from deep in the soil. These nutrients are stored in the leaves and by letting them break down, you’ll have a rich, dark, nutrient-rich plant food to use around the garden.
Comfrey leaves contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – all of which are needed by growing plants. In fact, comfrey leaves contain up to three times more potassium than farmyard manure. The nutrients are released when the leaves decay and you can capture them in three different ways:
As a liquid feed: Comfrey Tea
- Pick the leaves and chop/break them up
- Pack them tightly into a water-tight container, top up with water and fit a lid
- It’s a good idea to let it sit in a quiet part of the garden as it gets smelly!
- Leave to sit until you have a rich, brown liquid
- When you are ready to use, dilute this liquid further, 1 part to 10 parts fresh water
As a compost activator
- Place cut comfrey leaves in alternate layers throughout your compost heap. When they rot down they encourage bacterial action causing the heap to heat up and thus speeding up the composting process.
- When leaves are added to a leaf heap, their nutrient-rich liquid absorbed within the mould, making it a perfect medium for growing seeds and potting compost.
Direct in the soil as a fertliser
- Line the bottom of your potato and runner bean trenches with comfrey leaves and cover with a thin layer of soil. After planting your tubers or beans, fill the trench as usual, and the comfrey leaves will be broken down by the soil bacteria to provide a potassium-rich fertiliser.
- Alternatively place a layer of leaves 5 cms deep on the surface of the soil around all plants. This will not only slowly rot down to provide nutrients, but also act as a mulch to help control weeds (especially with an extra topping of grass cuttings).
Comfrey used to be known as “knit-bone” due to it’s supposed healing properties. However today eating or taking any form of comfrey isn’t recommended. It’s considered unsafe, due to the pyrrolizidine alkaloids that it contains.
If you are going to forage, please follow the simple guidelines:
- Always be sure you are sure of the plant before you pick it and never eat any plant you are unsure of.
- Leave plenty behind for wildlife.
- Make sure you have permission to pick
- Only pick where plants are plentiful