Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

First Cut Comfrey


Comfrey is a new crop on my allotment for 2014, though I won't be eating any of it. Since I started to install raised beds on the plot last year, I now need to make lots more compost to keep them topped up. That's where the comfrey comes in as it acts as a great accelerator when added to the raw ingredients in a compost bin.

As you can see from the photo, my new comfrey bed is handily placed next to the compost bins in the middle of my plot. This is the variety Bocking14, the kind which isn't so much of a garden thug, unlike the comfrey I see growing right next to the River Avon in town, which is giving the invasive Himalayan balsam there a run for its money.

I'm growing it in a mini raised bed of its own made from some used car tyres I acquired ages ago. When I planted the comfrey out last year, I was a bit worried the couch grass nearby would invade the bed. The tyres plus an extra thick lining of cardboard and newspaper were my attempt to prevent this from happening whilst the plants were establishing themselves. It appears to have worked so far *crosses fingers*

I'm expecting the deep roots of the plants will soon break through the bed's lining to start bringing up the minerals and other nutrients from below. Once they start doing that - and the plants get a bit more established and bigger - I'll start making a comfrey feed for my plants as well as feeding my compost bin.

Home made comfrey feed is notoriously smelly. However, James in his famous compost chat at Yeo Valley Organic Garden showed me a different 'dry' method which doesn't pong. Emma Cooper also showed how to do this in her plan for Groundbreaking Food Gardens. Luckily for anyone reading this who wants to follow suit, she also blogged about it :)

Just like the salad leaves I'm growing, comfrey is a great 'cut and come again' addition to my plot.

16 comments:

  1. Must get round to doing this myself this year. Peggy Taylor at Oak Trees Studio has a useful containerised way of making comfrey feed http://oaktreesstudio.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/take-a-bunch-of-comfrey-and-make-organic-plant-food/

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    1. Thanks Helen, I can't quite see how it works but I'm sure it'll become clear when I make one

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  2. I'm rather surprised that you've not grown it before! Flighty xx

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    1. I was worried about it taking over the plot Flighty, hopefully my solution will work

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  3. I've been making comfrey feed in a tube for a few years. I'd definitely recommend it. I blogged about it a few weeks ago. It's not exactly sweet smelling but nothing like what you make in a bucket.

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  4. Glad that you have got the refined version. I inherited the thug at the allotment but the bees love it whilst I try to keep on top of it. Shredded leaves went under my courgette, potato and bean plantings this year.

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  5. I've got some growing in the garden, but after reading this I think it would be a good idea to put some in at the allotment too. Any idea how I propagate it? I bought it as tiny slips on Ebay for very little, and it's done brilliantly. Thanks for the tips VP.

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    1. CJ just dig some up and replant at the allotment. Flighty xx

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  6. When I was a few decades younger, my paternal grandmother had a large patch of established comfrey growing by her goat barn. She insisted I eat a few leaves every time I passed by to help get bruises away.

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    1. I didn’t know it was edible! I thought you used it as a compress on bruises...

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  7. I've had Bocking 14 on my allotment for a few years and it's prolific. I've moved it a couple of times and having inadvertently left a tiny piece of root in the soil each time, I now have three large, established patches! Thanks for the tip on the dry method for making comfrey feed, will give that a go as the wet method is very, very smelly.

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    1. Mine is still getting established - looking forward to it being prolific :-)

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  8. I have comfrey and yep it does pong. I need to get my backside into gear regarding getting new compost bins set up. If only it wasn't too damn hot!

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    1. Hopefully the cooler weather this week will help you get those bins going :-)

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