7 uses of comfrey in the permaculture garden

Comfrey compost is considered an excellent source of energy for the permaculture garden. Today we are talking about seven uses of comfrey to build healthy soil and grow organic crops.


Comfrey: the star of permaculture.

If permaculture design had a favorite child, it would be comfrey. It is a multifunctional, prolific and low maintenance plant: everything we look for when selecting plants for the permaculture garden or orchard.

Among the many properties of comfrey are its beautiful purple flowers which attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. Plus, its large leaves shade the ground and provide a habitat for beneficial insects.

It is also one of the most widely used and effective medicinal plants.

In addition, comfrey is known to enrich the soil and accelerate its formation.

Uses of comfrey in the vegetable patch or in the garden.

If you’re wondering how to use comfrey in the garden or vegetable patch, here are seven ways to take advantage of its ability to enrich and condition the soil.

1. Activate the compost.

It is the most versatile of all comfrey uses. Activating a compost pile allows you to make a rich, balanced soil amendment faster, which can then be used wherever organic matter is needed.

Comfrey clippings are an excellent bioactivator in the composter. If you have a lot of dry brown material like fall leaves, mixing it with comfrey cuttings is an effective way to balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio and initiate decomposition.

To give your compost pile a quick boost, collect comfrey leaves and shred them. You can use garden shears to quickly cut the leaves. Add a small amount of water and stir/mix for a minute or two.

Add more water to mix and pour all of the solution into the compost pile. That extra quick little step is like chewing your food. Predigestion helps beneficial microorganisms in the compost pile (like those in our stomachs) work faster.

The finished compost will have a higher nutrient content with comfrey.

2. Comfrey fertilizer.

Green manure is an alternative -or a complement- to animal manure as a soil amendment. Green manure plants are simply cut and planted.

For those who live in cities and do not have easy access to livestock manure, green manures are a good solution. In fact, of all the uses for comfrey in the garden, this is the simplest.

Manure sources are categorized by their NPK (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) values, as these are the primary nutrients plants need for healthy growth.

Compared to animal manures, the NPK values ​​of comfrey are relatively low. However, its nutrients are more readily bioavailable to plants. While animal manures can burn plants if added during the growing season, comfrey green manures can be applied at any time.

When using comfrey as a green manure, add chopped comfrey to garden soil in the fall. Gently mix it into the top layers of soil. By spring, the soil will have decomposed and enriched.

Comfrey compost can also be added in early spring, at least two weeks before planting. To start composting comfrey at this late date, try the quick method explained earlier in Activating Compost.

Note: Comfrey plants may not come out of winter dormancy until late March/early April, depending on your location, so there may not be any comfrey leaves to cut and spread before the start of winter. the growing season.

3. Comfrey powder for the garden.

Keeping dried comfrey on hand is a habit that takes some getting used to. Powdered dried comfrey (root or leaf) can also be used to build and fertilize garden soil.

Make your own comfrey by air-drying it or using a dehydrator. Remove the dried leaves from the stems and use a blender or coffee grinder to make leaf powder. Store it in an airtight container.

Simply mix powdered comfrey into the soil about two weeks before planting. Remember that powdered comfrey is more concentrated than fresh leaves, so a little is enough. A pinch along each row should be enough.

Powdered comfrey compost can be used in the garden in late winter and early spring, before comfrey plants wake up and produce leaves. The powder also breaks down more easily than fresh leaves, which is better for the spring garden.

You can also use dried comfrey leaves to make a healing balm for cuts, scrapes, bites, bruises, joint pain, and all sorts of external ailments.

4. Condition the soil for future perennial gardens.

Comfrey roots break down heavy clay and create channels for aeration and better water absorption, similar to dandelion roots.

Over time, its decaying leaves and roots enrich and condition the soil. This dual action of decaying leaves and roots can help improve marginal land.

If you have an area with compacted soil in which you plan to grow edible perennials in the future (like a food forest), plant the area with soil-breaking plants like comfrey to break up the tough layer and loosen and condition the soil in preparation. .

Since comfrey prefers rich soils, give it a head start in poor soils by adding a shovelful of compost.

5. Help the seedlings when transplanting them.

Young perennials (fruit trees, berry bushes, asparagus, herbs, etc.) and young fruiting vegetable plants (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, etc.) will get a nutritional boost from comfrey.

When planting, bury a few comfrey leaves under each planting spot. Once broken down, comfrey leaves will provide essential nutrients and help young plants grow strong and free from pests and diseases.

6. Comfrey tea as fertilizer.

Comfrey tea is a great way to provide an immediate boost of nutrients to our plants. It’s made by soaking fresh plant matter in water for a set amount of time, straining the liquid, and using it to water your plants to give them a mid-season boost.

Of all the comfrey uses listed, this method requires a little more time and planning. However, its effectiveness is noticeable very soon after its application.

Comfrey Compost Tea can promote overall growth and promote better flowering and more vigorous growth of perennials and fruiting horticultural plants (i.e. tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers) . Do not use comfrey compost tea on young plants.

To make strong comfrey compost tea, half fill a container of any size with fresh comfrey cuttings. Fill it with water, cover it and let it sit for 3-6 weeks. Warning: it will smell very bad. Filter the liquid and dilute it by half. Or if a spray is used, it is not necessary to pre-dilute it.

To make a weaker (less smelly) comfrey compost tea: Add one liter of water for every liter of fresh comfrey cuttings. Let sit for three days, stirring daily, then strain and use.

Be sure to compost solid plant remains.

7. Comfrey mulch.

Mulching is a great way to protect the soil and prevent erosion.

Comfrey mulch, also called chop-and-drop, can help retain moisture and protect beneficial soil organisms. Comfrey mulch breaks down quickly, which activates microorganisms in the soil.

Grow comfrey under your perennial food plants, such as fruit trees. Cut and lay comfrey to feed the fruit trees, or you can collect the cuttings and take them to the garden.

As you can see, comfrey has many uses in the permaculture garden or vegetable patch. By reducing soil amendment costs, growing healthier plants and improving yields, it offers great value to gardeners.

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