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Homesteading: growing comfrey from seed

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paulwheaton
Missoula, MT

January 18, 2011
7:34 AM

Post #8316937

Apparently, this is "true" comfrey, NOT "russican comfrey".

In permaculture, this is often planted under fruit trees because it helps the fruit trees.

Comfrey is sometimes called "knit bone" because of how effective it is for mending bones.

Apparently the FDA is coming down on comfrey because it has dangerous alkaloids in it. It has about 1/100th the dangerous alkaloids that beer has.

http://www.youtube.com/paulwheaton12#p/u/0/dogNx-z7Oig



porkpal
Richmond, TX

January 18, 2011
8:28 AM

Post #8317039

Are we going to need a comfrey lobby?
CajuninKy
Biggs, KY
(Zone 6a)

January 21, 2011
7:04 PM

Post #8323353

What does it do for the fruit trees?
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

January 21, 2011
7:38 PM

Post #8323415

Sorry Paulwheaton ~ I am on dialup and do not have the option of watching youtube excerpts.

But Porkpal, if there is a lobby, I want in on it. I grow and use comfrey.

Cajun ~ if you make a tea of its' leaves it serves as an excellent fertilizer to water plants with. It also is a beneficial addition to a compost pile so would probably benefit the fruit trees by adding nutrients to the soil.

I also use salves (commercial preparations) for healing skin wounds. It is amazing how quickly it aids healing. It used to be used internally but has since been considered a carcinogen. It is now recommended for external use only.

I suspect we will continue to see the FDA becoming less receptive to various herbs and supplements used in preventive health care. The logic is not there. One would think the FDA, AMA and all the other alphabet agencies would encourage preventive health maintenance rather than discourage it.

This was an excerpt from an earlier DG article by Sallyg
Quoting: Garden uses

Comfrey is very useful in a very different way for farmers and gardeners. Growers can use comfrey leaves to make a fantastic, potassium rich, compost additive or liquid "tea" fertilizer. Tough far-ranging roots make Symphytum hardy, and hard to remove. But those same roots extract vital potassium (the K in fertilizer's N-P-K) from deep soil layers and 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, and flower and fruit production and quality. Comfrey roots also hold extra potassium.

I've looked through several pages of "hits," trying to find a university-based page about using comfrey plant parts in the garden. So far I haven't found one. I have found numerous links to discussions, anecdotes, and even videos on making and using comfrey leaf tea or juice. The general idea is this: harvest a lot of comfrey leaves, fill a bucket with them and let them rot. Then drain off the resulting dark liquor. Dilute it and use it as fertilizer, foliar feed or compost boosting liquid. The-Organic-Gardener.com says that raw comfrey leaf tea has an N-P-K ratio of about 8:3:20. That site recommends diluting the tea with fifteen to twenty parts of water before pouring or spraying it on garden beds or crops. Another writer dilutes with only ten parts of water. Without more specific advice, you'll have to use your judgement. Understand that the nutrients in diluted comfrey tea are soluble and quickly absorbed by plants. Frequent applications of a weak tea are better for the plant's health than one concentrated treatment. One other caution: hold off on comfrey tea treatment until plants are near maturity (ready to flower or set fruit.) Younger plants are more sensitive to excess nutrients that alter their growth.

If comfrey tea isn't quite your cup of tea, reap the gardener's benefits of comfrey by using freshly cut leaves. The leaves are unusually high in potassium, and contain nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) as well. 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. Use juicy green comfrey leaves to balance the dry "browns" of your compost. Comfrey roots hold potassium too, but might resprout. Roots can be used if completely dried. If you plan to harvest comfrey in quantity, keep your plants thriving by supplying them with plenty of water, sun, and rich soil.



Not the best photo but comfrey has beautiful ornamental flowers also...

Thumbnail by podster
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Kylaluaz
Clinton, WA
(Zone 7b)

January 22, 2011
5:06 PM

Post #8324803

The use of the leaves as mulch and in the compost is the reason I appreciate comfrey. The leaves as the article mentions provide mulch whilst rotting and as they decompose they offer nitrogen and minerals to the soil. The plants are so resilient they just grow on back no worries. I also suspect they are one of the plants who do the work of bringing nutrients that are deeply held in the soil upwards to a level where they are more available to other plants (such as the feeder roots of fruit trees, for instance.)

I think the reason though for the seedless cultivar (if it *is* seedless, the Hocking Russian or whatever it is) is that while it will still spread via roots, it does NOT spread via seeds. Not everyone wants comfrey growing all over the place, which I can understand, while still deploring the fact!

:) I love comfrey. You have a cut in your skin that is hard to dress or that is in a place where it might not heal easily due to whatever, take comfrey leaves, squish them a little just to release the juices from the cells, blanche very very briefly in boiling water to make them pliable enough for a poultice (don't cook them, you want the fresh juices) and lay it over the area. Works on livestock too. Herbalism term for the property of assisting healing like it does is gone from my brain at the moment, but comfrey is one of the plants that has this property of stimulating new healthy cell growth in tissue that is damaged or torn...

Paul, thanks for your videos. I think Michael Pilarski is great!
boddah
Accord, NY

February 18, 2011
11:21 AM

Post #8379042

so what the FDA says you can't eat comfrey means is that you can't sell comfrey for consumption. In this information age its so difficult to tell what is just propaganda. Obviously the establishment has the vested interest in keeping us from "eating our weeds" so to speak. But the question remains on whether it is harmful to consume. Obviously what we want is scientific data, but I don't know if that objectivity can be reached anyway. There is more information http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/herbal/msg080635098259.html than the alarmists care for you to read.
TXbabybloomer
Dayton, TX
(Zone 8b)

October 9, 2011
12:47 AM

Post #8841574

I too am on dial-up and can not view the video. Now that I have the room to grow it, I will be actively looking to find seeds, or plants. Since living in Texas, I have broke my big toe twice. I would have given anything to have had some comfrey growing! It is simply the best for healing in an area like toes.

darius

darius
So.App.Mtns.
United States
(Zone 5b)

October 9, 2011
8:49 AM

Post #8841946

Janet, remind me in late winter/early spring, and I'll see if I can split some comfrey as a starter for you. I'm rather parsimonious about sharing starts since I'll be actively planting many to my new forest farm areas, but I hope for enough to share!

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