Deer Gardener says: Try comfrey

  • Mar. 21, 2011 12:00 p.m.

While we wait to get down and dirty outdoors, it’s study time. My research has brought me to the interesting and easily grown comfrey. You can find a start in many established yards.Common comfrey is a perennial herb. It survives rough treatment and especially thrives in moist areas. In spring, the cold hardy rootstock pushes out large oval, hairy, textured leaves of deep green. By summer, flowering stems rise to three feet or more, topped with small clusters of dainty, down facing purple buds. Better described as bold than beautiful, it is best suited for a distant backdrop.Because of its traditional uses in herbal medicine, comfrey has been cultivated in kitchen gardens forever. The nickname ‘knitbone’ alludes to an ability for the leaves and roots to assist in healing broken bones. Comfrey leaves contain cell-stimulating allantoin, a chemical with healing attributes. External comfrey leaf applications are said to be useful for treating bruises and sores. There are toxic alkaloids in comfrey, so leave the leaves on the outside of your body and use the teas to soak wrapping cloths in. Herbs react differently on each of us. I am not able to use evening primrose oil or valerian for example. Be very conservative when first trying any herbal remedies.In the garden however, go for it. Growers can use comfrey leaves to make a fantastic, potassium rich, compost additive or liquid “tea” fertilizer. The tough far-ranging roots make Symphytum hardy, and hard to remove. But those same roots extract potassium (the K in fertilizer’s N-P-K) from deep soil layers. making it available to the soil. It is distributed throughout the comfrey plant. Plants need potassium for many metabolic functions. Keeping crops supplied with potassium is essential for their overall health, flower and fruit production. To make and use comfrey leaf tea, the general idea is this: harvest a lot of comfrey leaves, fill a bucket with them plus a bit of water and let them rot. Then drain off the resulting dark liquid. Dilute and use as a fertilizer, foliar feed or compost boosting liquid. Frequent applications of a weak tea are better for the plant’s health than one concentrated treatment. The-Organic-Gardener.com says that raw comfrey leaf tea has an N-P-K ratio of about 8:3:20. The site recommends diluting the tea with 20 parts of water before pouring or spraying it on garden beds or crops. Since it’s a pretty random liquid you pour off, (there is no control on the strength), err on the ‘too weak’ side. The compost booster aspect is the safest method of all to use this cheap fertilizer. Save this soil booster or foliar spray for mature plants.Established comfrey plants can be cut close to the ground a few times each summer and will rebound without harm. Use the fresh leaves as a mulch, or chop them and mix them into the soil near growing plants. I cannot recommend placing the roots in your compost, they will grow and be an incredible nuisance.Do have a great time poking around your yard and choosing your pet projects for this spring! Remember to divide too big yards into realistic plots for success. Dig that dirt!

Just Posted

QC food bank needs cash

Feed the People program shuts down for month of May

Repen: FOI data proves Telkwans being ripped off by ICBC

Former Telkwa mayor received a response from ICBC and says the results don’t look good for residents

Fires still burning near Telegraph Creek

BC Wildfire Service assures residents of a proactive plan heading into wildfire season

Northwest B.C. leaders divided over oil tanker ban

Senate hearings in Prince Rupert and Terrace show Bill C-48 is at a crossroads

Northwest entrepreneurs pitch their plans for cash prizes

ThriveNorth announces 12 finalists in this year’s business challenge

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

‘Cutthroat’ sport of wine tasting happening in B.C.

BC Tasting Games are underway with competitions in three Okanagan communities.

Early data suggests no post-legalization spike in drug-impaired driving charges

Many police departments are prioritizing investigations related to drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

Most Read