Spring is a busy time of the year on a smallholding, so it is hard to find time for posting blogs….One thing that kept me occupied today was gathering comfrey. This marvelous plant grows abundantly in the meadows at the moment with its beautiful purple flowers like eyes on a long neck overlooking the lavish wildflower tapestry. Comfrey (Symphytum Officinalis) is a multi-purpose medicinal herb. Because of its long root, which goes deep into the ground, it has access to minerals which are harder to get for plants with short and shallow root systems. This results in high levels of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium in their roots, stalks and leaves.
Some uses for Comfrey on a smallholding are:
Animal food: Cows, goats, horses, rabbits, chickens, pigs; they all love the taste of it. Nature does her work well here, because Comfrey has multiple positive health qualities for them. The herb has been used for many centuries for animals and humans alike and is especially known for its cell healing capacity (thanks to allantoin). External dressings and creams for wounds, burns, bruises, strained joints, ulcers and even broken bones are used. Internally stomach ulcers and diarrhea are treated.
It is also said to increase milk production in lactating animals. I met a farmer this week in the fields gathering a armful especially for his pigs to give them a healthy snack and change in their potato diet.
Compost: The large foliage has high levels of nitrogen (protein), which helps to speed up your composting process. Together with the mentioned valuable nutrients, it makes a good addition in the compost heap.
Garden: Besides using the Comfrey compost, you can also make a tea by soaking the leaves in a bucket of water till it starts to rot. This tea will give strength to garden plants, making them more disease resistant.
Orchard: Growing Comfrey under fruit trees provides a living nutritious mulching system. After flowering, the heavy plants fall down and decompose on the spot, creating a rich topsoil full with nutrients that are brought up from deep in the soil. Shallow roots from the fruit tree and soil micro-organisms feast on this treat.
Comfrey is easy to grow but, be aware, hard to get rid of once it is introduced to a place it likes.