Plant spring, summer
or fall. Comfrey can be planted any time the soil is not frozen. |
IN YOUR GARDEN OR FARM:
Good Nutrition for Farm Animals and
Eating for All Farm AnimalsWe
feed comfrey to our goats, ducks and chickens. They love it. The photo to the
left is a Dominique hen in comfrey and stinging nettle.
It is better to
plant comfrey where chickens and other animals can not eat or peck at them all
day. They love it so much that they kill it. Plant it away from the animals and
then cut the leaves off and give to them.
For our goats we cut the comfrey
leaves and put them in a hay rack since goats don't like to eat leaves laying
on the ground.
For the chickens and ducks we just throw them on the ground
and they eat the entire herb. They get very excited when we feed it to them. We
used to have pigs and it was a great treat for them. Sheep, cattle and other farm
animals like it too.
is especially good for animals you are milking. It gives does, cows and ewes a
nutritional boost. You can even dry it and then feed it to your animals in the
Some people say it improves milk production and increases the
amount of cream in the milk (from the protein probably). Of course, feed all food
supplements in moderation. Variety is always best.
Here's a creative
way to use your comfrey:
"I am building ‘forage fences’ with two sets of
welded wire panels about 7 feet apart to separate my pastures into paddocks for
rotational grazing for dairy goats and sheep. Between the two panels (the 7’ area)
I’m planting fruit/nut/pollinator attracting trees, shrubs and plants using permaculture
type guilds. The goats can forage through the fences, but will not be able to
destroy the trees and shrub trunks in the center. The plants can continue to grow.
I’m excited about the invasive comfrey (blue-flowered wild/rough comfrey) because
I want it to expand to the outside of the fence for the animals to eat." -Kirsten,
for Compost Pile, Fertilizer Tea, or Soil AmendmentComfrey
leaves are high in nitrogen (protein), potassium, calcium, iron and phosphate
with many trace minerals (micronutrients). They have 1.8-0.5-5.3 NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium).
Kelp meal has an NPK of 1.0-0.5-2.5, and compost ranges from 0.5-0.5-0.5 to 4-4-4.
So it's better than kelp and some compost.
Comfrey has very long roots
(6-8 feet) so are able to bring up nutrients from deep in the soil (dynamic accumulator).
Its leaves have 2-3 times more potassium than farmyard manure.
comfrey leaves to your compost pile to speed up the composting rate (compost activator)
and to add extra nutrients. The leaves break down quickly.
You can put
3-5 inches of comfrey leaves on top of brown compost material such as dead leaves
(from other plants) or wood shavings. Add a layer of food scraps from the kitchen
and other green (fresh) material. Put some dirt on all of this to help the composting
process. The comfrey helps heat up the pile.
Make a fertilizer tea (compost
tea) with comfrey leaves. Fill a barrel or bucket half with leaves. Then fill
with water. Let them rot for 4–5 weeks. You create comfrey tea. It can be used
full strength or diluted 50:50 with water.
Use it to water your plants.
Some research shows that comfrey tea sprays activate natural defense mechanisms
in seedlings, making them more resistant to disease.
You can also stack
dry leaves under a weight such as rocks in a bucket with a hole in the bottom.
The leaves decompose and create a thick black comfrey concentrate that oozes out
of the hole. Dilute at 15:1 before using. The leaves are low in fiber (low carbon)
so over time they decompose into a thick black liquid.
plant growth by adding comfrey leaves to the bottom of planting holes for potatoes,
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, fruit trees/bushes and other potassium-loving plants.
Do not put flowering stalks in holes because they might root.
not rob the soil of nitrogen because the Carbon:Nitrogen (C:N) ratio is lower
than that of well-rotted compost. This is unlike straw and dry leaves that take
nitrogen out of the soil while they decompose.
Use comfrey as a mulch
or side dressing (green manure) by putting 2-3 inches of leaves around plants.
The leaves slowly break down releasing the nutrients. But it is better to limit
mulching root crops and leafy greens with comfrey because they may go to seed
TreesThis mulch is especially good for fruit trees. Or better yet
grow comfrey plants around fruit trees. Plant 2-6 or more plants around each tree
depending on the size of the tree. If planting Russian Comfrey, plant at least
3 feet away from the trunk. Larger trees can have plants placed 3 or more feet
apart under the canopy of the tree.
You don't have to harvest the leaves,
just let them grow/die/decompose back into the soil. Or you can harvest the leaves
and throw them around the tree.
It is best to remove all flowers or flower
stalks on the comfrey because they take a lot of the plant's energy to create
the seeds. However, we always leave a few plants with flowers because the bees
and other beneficial insects love them.
Growing, Bountiful Harvest Comfrey
(compfrey, comphrey, compry) leaves are fast growing. You get about 4-5 pounds
of leaves from each cutting of a mature plant (2 years old or older depending
on growing conditions). You should get about 4-5 cuttings a year, usually every
Do not cut the plants the first year but do remove the flowers
the first year. Cut when leaves are about 2 feet high. Harvest using scissors,
a sickle or a scythe. Cut all of the leaves from the plant at one time. It is
best to wear gloves.
It is best to harvest the leaves before they flower
since flowering uses up a lot of the plants energy. Harvest on a regular basis
so that flowers do not form. Cut the leaves 2 inches from the ground.
cutting in late summer or early fall so the plants have time to regain their energy
for winter dormancy. Comfrey plants can withstand temperatures as low as 40 degrees
below zero without being killed.
If you do not want the plant to spread,
then do not rototill or plow the plants. This will cut up the roots into many
pieces. Many of the pieces will then grow into a new plant. Of course, if you
want more plants this can be an advantage.