Comfrey As A Grow Your Own Fertilizer For The Organic Garden

Save money and grow healthy plants with home grown comfrey organic plant food.

Comfrey is an excellent plant to grow in all but the very smallest organic garden. This perennial plant has a long root that draws plant nutrients up from the subsoil, making these same nutrients available in their fast-growing leaves.

Organic gardeners harvest the leaves around three times a year, cutting them off close to the ground, beginning with a first cut in late spring. The leaves are then used as an organic fertilizer, either directly as a mulch on the surface of the soil, or as a liquid feed.

How to Grow Comfrey

comfrey plants

Prepare a weed-free bed in the late spring, or early summer. Take care to remove all perennial weeds. Plant comfrey offsets (also known as root cuttings) around 24 inches apart. If you leave the soil between the offsets bare then you must weed regularly to allow the plants to establish. To reduce weeding in the first year apply mulch between the plants, either organic mulch such as dried leaves or lawn clippings, or polypropylene weed control matting.

Cultivars of Comfrey

The best variety of comfrey for use in the organic garden is the cultivar developed but Lawrence Hills, founder of the UK organic gardening association “Garden Organic”. Known as “Bocking 14” after the research station where it was developed, this variety of comfrey has leaves particularly rich in nutrients, and it does not set seed easily, reducing the risk of it spreading around the garden.

Comfrey as Fertilizing Mulch

The leaves can be used as nutrient-rich mulch that rots down quickly into the soil, releasing valuable plant food. Wilt the leaves for a day or so before applying to ensure they do not take root. There is no need to apply a heavy mulch, a thin layer of leaves is all that is needed.

Liquid Comfrey Plant Feed

Comfrey Fertilizer

There are two ways to make liquid comfrey food for plants:

  • The traditional method is to fill a watertight container with comfrey leaves and then cover with water. Leave to rot down for a few days, and strain the resulting liquid into a watering can and use, undiluted, as a plant feed. Be warned: the resulting fluid is extremely smelly!
  • To make a sweeter smelling alternative, find a watertight container with either a tap, or bunged hole, near to the base. Pack the container tightly with comfrey leaves, place a weight on to of them, and leave for a couple of weeks. Open the tap, or release the bung and collect the resulting concentrated plant feed. Dilute before use.

Other Uses of Comfrey

Comfrey is a remarkable plant with many valuable properties:

  • Comfrey is well known as a medical herb, known traditionally as “knitbone” thanks to its remarkable healing powers when applied externally.
  • Comfrey has also been used as a nutritious animal feed, though there are some concerns about the effect of consuming large quantities