Comfrey is a plant recommended by many organic gardeners. Why is this?
1. It grows rapidly and its leaves can be harvested 4 or 5 times a season for many years.
2. The composition of its leaves are reckoned to be almost perfect in terms of minerals for feeding plants.
3. Its leaves can be rotted to produce a concentrated tea, suitable for feeding many plants (notably beans, tomatoes and potatoes).
4. It acts as an excellent compost accelerator and enriches the quality of compost at the same time.
5. Planting potatoes wrapped in comfrey leaves can enhance crop yields.
6. Combining comfrey, grass cuttings and manure can make a perfect hilling up mixture for potatoes.
7. The deep rooting of the plants brings buried nutrients to the surface, as the remaining leaves in autumn are left to die back, creating surface compost.
Lawrence Hills of the Henry Doubleday Association pioneered research into uses of comfrey, identifying Bocking Strain 14 as an optimal strain. It is a sterile strain, which means it does not spread and invade other areas of your garden. It is also very vigorous, giving large yields each season.
If you wish to establish some comfrey, it is a good idea to do this in early to mid summer and not make any harvests until the following spring. Planting your maincrop potatoes when the first harvest of comfrey is ready is a natural way of timing potato planting to natural cycles.
For a fascinating read about Hills’ research on comfrey, read:
‘Comfrey: Past, present and future’, Lawrence D Hills (1976) ISBN 9780571110070