Plant spring, summer
or fall. Comfrey can be planted any time the soil is not frozen.|
Send me your photos and experiences with comfrey. Email:
IN YOUR GARDEN OR FARM:
Good Nutrition for Farm Animals and
Eating for All Farm AnimalsComfrey leaves are
22% protein. Grow your own animal food. We feed comfrey to our goats, ducks and
chickens. They love it. The photo to the left is a Dominique hen in comfrey and
Lower Your Feed Costs
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, South Carolina
Group Recommends Comfrey
"Comfrey is well-suited
as a feed for chickens. Chickens’ digestive systems are not equipped to handle
much fiber. Comfrey is low in fiber and high in protein and minerals, especially
when cut regularly. It has a protein to fiber ratio of about three to two. If
the high-yielding Bocking 14 strain of comfrey is planted, 30 plants spaced at
3 feet by 3 feet will yield enough comfrey to feed 12 birds their entire allotment
of green plant matter."
"Comfrey can be an inexpensive source of vitamin A. Second-year hens fed
half a ratio of comfrey laid large eggs with deep yellow yolks. The flesh of chickens
that have been fed comfrey also ends up being more yellow, perhaps because of
increased vitamin A content."
"Chopping comfrey with a chaff cutter is especially recommended for birds
less than eight weeks old. Another method for feeding comfrey to chickens is to
hang it on a string and let birds jump for it (so it doesn’t get trampled on)."
The above is from ECHO Development Notes, April 2014. ECHO is a non-profit organization
that helps the poor grow food around the world. They also recommend comfrey for
cattle, goats and pigs.
The photo to the left is a group of Toggenburg does and kids in a pasture of Russian
comfrey and other plants. I use rotational grazing.
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. Can be used in hydroponics. 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.
Comfrey as Potato
Comfrey leaves make
a great fertilizer to put in a potato planting hole in the spring. Dig the hole,
place some comfrey leaves, put the potato on top of the leaves, and cover with
dirt. This photo is of the Purple Majesty potato.
From "Farm Radio International": A man in South Africa has learned from a village
elder that comfrey leaves are good fertilizer for his potatoes. One day Tabo was
out in his garden working. He was planting potatoes. He was planting them different
ways to see which would grow the best. Next to his animals, Tabo loved nothing
more than working in his garden. Some of the seed potatoes Tabo planted with no
preparation; others he planted by mixing animal manure into the soil first; others
he planted by mixing fertilizer he had bought from the wholesaler in town. And
a few potatoes he planted by putting a number of large leaves from a comfrey plant
(Symphytum spp.) under them first. He simply placed some comfrey leaves in the
bottom of the planting hole, placed the seed potatoes on top of the leaves, and
filled the hole with soil. An old herbalist had told him about this last trick.
Where the old herbalist had learned it, he wouldn’t tell.
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.