Actually the tea I’m going to blog about today would have you struck off the Parish Flower Arranging Rosta quicker than anything if you offered it to the vicar. Comfrey tea is for the green and leafy amongst us aka plants and it is a miracle fertiliser that I’ve been using on my veges for a couple of years now. It’s so easy to make and once you have a little patch of comfrey in your garden you will always have it! You can find this perennial herb in your local garden centre; it’s real name is Symphytum x uplandicum and you’re after the Russian Bocking 14 variety. If you have a friend with comfrey in their garden simply dig up a bit of root and plant it; you’ll have comfrey plants in no time.
The magic of comfrey can be found within it’s thick, deeply veined leaves which are full to bursting with several minerals including nitrogen and potassium which are vital for flower, seed and fruit production. It’s leaves rot down really quickly so if you have comfrey in your garden you have an ready supply of instant fertiliser for your plants.
You can also use comfrey as a compost activator. Cut some leaves and wilt them in the sun for a few hours then throw on the compost. It will soon heat up the pile and get the compost going.
A word to the wise; choose a home for your comfrey very carefully indeed. It’s a tough little cookie, a real survivor, and possesses a long tap root so, even if you think you may have dug it out completely, any little bit of root left in the soil will soon sprout more leaves and make more plants. This is what’s happening to me at the moment. I merrily planted some comfrey in the tomato bed when I was unaware of it’s Tap Root Growing Ability. I thought I’d dug it out completely but whenever I dig over the bed I discover rubbery bits of root springing up all over the show. It’s like opening up one of those joke tins that contains coiled up paper snakes that spring out forcibly, and rather alarmingly, onto the unsuspecting victim. Even though I know the roots are there I can’t help but emit little cries of alarm as, yet again, another little bit of root pings up from the soil and hits me on the ankle like a rubbery snake. Note to self: avoid similar unsettling experience by planting in the correct location from Day 1.
Making comfrey tea is as easy as, well, making tea really but you need to exercise a bit of patience; magical brews take a while to create. Simply take an old bucket or barrel and fill with freshly cut comfrey leaves; quantity isn’t really important but I tend to half fill my bucket. Then fill with water and leave for two weeks.
Some people stir the brew every couple of days to reduce odour and others add a lid. I just leave mine to fester and turn a deep, rich brown and leave it out the way where the smell won’t bother anyone; it’s a pretty potent smell I have to warn you and whatever you do, DON’T splash any on your hands or feet when you come to use it! I did once and I turned into a social pariah in my house despite copious lathering of soap and water…just saying. After the allotted 2 weeks simply dilute the brew 1 part comfrey to 10 parts water or thereabouts and lavish generously on your plants. Tomatoes, curcubits and beans particularly love it but I also use it on squash and this year on fennel for the first time. If you’re feeling creative with your tea making then feel free to add seaweed, farm manure, fish bones and other organic goodies; it’s all good stinky stuff!
Chickens are also rather partial to some comfrey now and then. I add it to my Chicken Tonic which you can read about here. What a useful herb that brings delight to plant and foul alike and to me; as I wonder about with my watering can full of this elixir I feel as if my plants are sitting up just that little bit straighter, nudging each other and waving their leaves excitedly with a soft chorus of “Me First!” on the breeze. The Figlets don’t call me Crazy Lady for nothing you understand…..the cheek!