GROW COMFREY TO MAKE FREE TOMATO FEED – 4th week in June 2012

The tomato, beans, courgette and potato plants are flowering. Some of the peas and beans are already fruiting as are the blackcurrants, raspberries, strawberries and apples. As the flowers turn to fruit, a regular comfrey liquid feed will add potassium, an important element at the fruiting stage of a plant.

The comfrey patch in the front garden is cut back to the ground two or three times during spring and summer before is goes dormant for the winter. It has a fast growth rate. If you don’t let it flower, it will produce even more leaves. I am happy to allow comfrey flower as the bees love the small purple blossoms.

I have a couple of water butts at the base of drainpipes to collect rainwater, but the comfrey liquid feed making barrel is in a corner beside the comfrey patch. This is now packed with the last month’s harvest of comfrey leaves which are stewing away in water. In the next few days, I will siphon of the liquid feed into empty screw top plastic milk containers. Sealed containers are best as there is a slight ‘pong’ from the feed when it is agitated, but this disappears quickly in the soil.

A  large watering can of water topped up with a litre of feed is dilute enough to apply around the plants which are beginning to set flowers and fruit. A weekly liquid feed keeps the tomatoes, beans, peas etc fruiting well, although a bit more sunshine would be appreciated! If I have surplus comfrey leaves, they are used as a mulch to suppress weeds and deter slugs or simply added to the compost mix.

The analysis of comfrey is impressive. 1. Comfrey can produce 2kg to 3kg of leaves per plant per season. 2. The leaves and stems contain an NPK ratio of 1.8: 0.5: 5.3 – significantly better than seaweed or compost. 3. Comfrey contains a similare level of nitrogen to farmyard manure and twice as much potash. 4. Comfrey has a carbon to nitrigen ration of 9.1, which makes it a perfect balance for producing great compost.

If you know somebody (like me!) with a comfrey bed, it is easy to start your own comfrey bed with on offset of root and shoot cut from a parent plant. Otherwise try www.organiccatalogue.comto get a mailorder of small comfrey plants, variety Bocking 14. This is the best strain of comfrey for a garden. It is a sterile cultivar that will not seed. Prolific seeding can be a problem with wild varieties.

Comfrey (variety Bocking 14) growing adjacent to the liquid feed making barrel, complet with tap for siphoning off the ‘comfrey tea’.

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One response to this post.

  1. Hi Trevor,
    I also have comfrey Bocking 14 plants here at The Herb Garden. http://www.theherbgarden.ie
    Regards, Denise

    Reply

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