Ways & How

How to Use Comfrey as a Fertilizer

How to Use Comfrey as a Fertilizer

Comfrey, Symphytum officinale, belongs to the borage family and grows in moist soils in Europe and some parts of Asia. Comfrey is a perennial shrub that can grow up to five feet tall and spread to more than a yard in width. It has hairy stems and hairy, oblong leaves 12-18 inches long with flowers densely arranged in clusters. The flowers come in dull purple or blue and fade into pink. Because of its rich nitrogen and potash content, comfrey has found many applications in gardening. Once you have the leaves and cuttings, you can use them as different forms of fertilizer, depending on how they were prepared. To get started, follow the suggestions below on how to use comfrey as a fertilizer.

  1. Turn it into “comfrey tea.” One of the most popular methods of using comfrey as a fertilizer is by turning it into liquid fertilizer, or comfrey tea, made from crushed comfrey leaves that turn into liquid after a month or two. To make comfrey tea, place as many comfrey leaves as you can into a container, squeezing the leaves down as you add them (no need to add water).

    nce you have almost reached the brim, put a large or heavy object on top of the pile before covering the container. This will further mash the leaves down as time passes. Usually, it will take about a month and a half to two months before the leaves completely liquefy. Pure, concentrated comfrey tea is very strong, and it damages the roots of the plant, so you should dilute it with water before using. The typical ratio is one part comfrey tea to 15 parts water.

  2. Use it as mulch. Mulching is another way of using comfrey as a fertilizer. To do that, cut the leaves into small pieces, then place them in two-inch layers around the plant. Once the leaves dry, you need to water them or cover them with soil, so they won’t be scattered by animals or blown by the wind.

  3. Add it to the soil as a conditioner. Due to comfrey’s potassium, nitrogen, and phosphate content, it does well as a soil amendment. This is done by burying the comfrey leaves in the planting area before the planting period. You may place them directly into the planting holes and cover them with soil, or you can bury them in the trenches or in between rows.

  4. se it to heat up compost. Comfrey has a high protein and potash content that hastens decomposition. You would need comfrey leaves and stalks and other composting materials like twigs and vegetable peelings. Layer them on top of each other: Place the comfrey first, then the compost material, then another layer of comfrey, and so on. However, use comfrey sparingly. Its high nitrogen content can “burn” the compost and turn it into a mushy pool of liquid.

  5. Add it in potting mixtures. Adding comfrey leaves to potting mixtures makes an excellent planting medium. Preparing the leaf mould uses the same process as mentioned in the composting method above, where you will place the comfrey and other leaves in alternating layers without the addition of twigs or other non-leaf components. If you are in a wet tropical area, it will take about a year before the mould becomes usable; in other places, it can take longer. Once the leaf mould has turned soft and crumbly, it is ready for use.

Comfrey is a versatile shrub that also confers medicinal uses if you know which parts of the plant are safe to use (some parts contain toxic alkaloids). Given the high costs of commercial fertilizers today and the relative ease of how to use comfrey as a fertilizer, it is becoming a very popular choice among gardeners who want to grow ornamental plants and vegetables using organic methods.  


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