Comfrey, Russian Bocking #14 (Symphytum uplandicum)
Comfrey, Russian Bocking #14 (Symphytum uplandicum)
Comfrey, Russian Bocking #14 (Symphytum uplandicum)
Comfrey, Russian Bocking #14 (Symphytum uplandicum)
Comfrey, Russian Bocking #14 (Symphytum uplandicum)
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Comfrey, Russian Bocking #14 (Symphytum uplandicum)

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Comfrey is the workhorse of a perennial garden!  It gives so much and asks for so little...and did we mention that it's BEAUTIFUL?!   In addition to its gorgeous leaves and flowers, it gives us home-grown fertilizer and medicine.  We grow it around our fruit trees and as a border around our veggie gardens.  We simply couldn't grow the amazing things we do in our food forest without this miraculous plant.

Why We Love It

Here are some of the ways we use comfrey...

1) FERTILIZATION - Comfrey is a wonderful chop and drop fertilizer plant.  It has deep roots that mine for minerals.  This makes it drought tolerant once established and you can cut the leaves and drop them around your plants and trees.  You can also make a fertilizer tea from its leaves. The NPK ratio of comfrey leaves is 8:3:20.

2) POLLINATOR ATTRACTOR - The beautiful purple flowers attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden.

3)  SOOTHES INFLAMMATION & SPEEDS HEALING - Comfrey's nickname is "knitbone" and this gives a clue about its herbal powers.  It can be used as a poultice on broken bones, sprains, and strains.  It also is a great ingredient in soothing skin balms.

How to Grow It

Here's how to grow comfrey:

SUN FULL OR PART SUN
MOISTURE LOVES MOISTURE, BUT DROUGHT TOLERANT ONCE ESTABLISHED
GROWING ZONES USDA 3-9 (Not sure? Find your growing zone here)
SIZE 2 feet tall and wide
PRO TIP This variety of comfrey does not produce viable seeds, so it should stay put where you want it.  However, if you disturb the roots, it will cause it to multiply.  If you want to remove it, cut off water completely.  To plant root fragments, place in the ground laying horizontally and water in.  They will spring to life for you with ease!

 

How to Harvest & Use It

Here's how we harvest comfrey:

FERTILIZER:  As a fertilizer, we chop and drop the comfrey up to 7 times per season.  We cut the comfrey down to 6" high and then lay the leaves around our fruit trees and on our garden beds.  It will break down and release their nutrients into the soil.

TOPICAL MEDICINE:  Comfrey also makes a wonderful poultice for strains and sprains.  Put a handful of comfrey leaves into your blender with enough water to make a thick paste.  You can apply this paste directly to your injured joint and wrap with plastic wrap to hold in place.  Leave in place for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours for deep tissue healing.  You will be amazed at how much this speeds up healing!

Here's a great video about comfrey from the Herbal Jedi: