Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Black Wort Boneset Heirloom Herb
Height 24-42 in
Comfrey, is a genus of flowering plants in the borage family, Boraginaceae. Comfrey is a perennial shrub that is native to Europe and some parts of Asia. Fond of moist soils, comfrey has a thick, hairy stem, and bears long tubular bell shaped flowers that are a dull purple, blue or whitish color, and densely arranged in clusters.
Comfrey is also known as boneset, knitbone, black wort, wall wort, and slippery root. There are up to 35 species, known by the common name comfrey. This variety, Symphytum officinale, is used in gardening and herbal medicine. Folk medicine names for comfrey include knitbone, boneset, and the derivation of its Latin name Symphytum (from the Greek symphis, meaning growing together of bones, and phyton, a plant), referring to its ancient uses
Comfrey is one of the most important medicinal herbs for injuries. It contains allantoin, a hormone-like substance that stimulates cell division, making it valuable for healing wounds, ulcers and broken bones. Traditionally used as a tea or poultice. Due to pyrrolizidine alkaloids there is concern for hepatic toxicity and should therefore be only applied externally.
Best of all, Comfrey can provide a completely free nutrient-rich source of fertilizer which can be used all season long
Comfrey Tea For Plant Health:
- When the leaves are at least 2 ft tall, grab some gloves and collect a bucket full of the large, fuzzy leaves. Use a garden knife or shears to cut them down to a couple of inches above the soil. Snip the stems off from the leaves you have harvested. Note: harvest the outer leaves first so the plant can continue growing. Chop or shred the leaves to speed up the process of fermentation.
- Place the chopped harvested leaves in a bin or bucket, pushing them down firmly. Place a couple of large rocks or bricks on top of the leaves to weigh them down, and then fill the bucket with water. Always cover the bucket. This will keep insects away, prevent dilution from rainwater, and help to eliminate the smell from going everywhere
- Place the bucket in a protected location in the garden, and let the fermentation process begin. To make a very strong tea, leave the bucket to steep for a long time. Recommendations range anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. Once leaves have broken down into a slurry paste- the tea is ready.
- If the tea smells, this is a good sign that the leaves are breaking down and the nutrients are being released.
- The final product will be a greenish brown liquid and some very nasty, mushy leaves which will need to be diluted with water depending on the time steeped.
How to Use Comfrey Tea Fertilizer
Once you are ready to use the liquid feed, scoop or strain out the decomposing leafy gunk from the bottom of the bucket and toss into your compost pile, or use it to side dress other crops such as potatoes and tomatoes. NOTE: Before using, dilute this with water or it will burn your plants. The darker the liquid, the more you should dilute it. Recommendations for dilution range anywhere from 1:2 to 1:15 parts 'tea' to water.
If you have steeped it for a full 6 weeks and you have a full 5-gallon bucket of liquid, it is recommended to do a 1:10 ratio, however if only steeped for a few weeks, 1:4 would likely be fine. And If you only let it sit for a day or two, there may be no need to dilute it at all.
- Full sun-part shade
- Average to moist soil.
- Start seeds indoors: seeds need to be cold treated, also known as stratification for optimum germination. Sow seed in a moistened soil-less growing medium such as vermiculite, enclose in plastic bag or small container then place in refrigerator for a 20 to 60 days.
- OR direct sow outdoors about 3 weeks prior to last frost date, plant seeds 1/2 in deep. Water in lightly but well, and keep the soil moist until seeds germinate in about 2 to 3 weeks.
- Seed count: 5