Half a Hundred Herbs Week 19 – Comfrey

This is the wild plant growing along the river bank, about ten minutes walk away, very lush and often full of bees. Comfrey has always been a much valued herb, with healing properties which sound nothing short of miraculous – it was considered good for burns, wounds, bruises and broken bones, and was given for everything from anaemia and arthritis to ulcers. It was eaten as a vegetable at one time – I can only imagine that it was a time of famine – and cooked in fritters.

 

comfrey (2)Nowadays we are much more cautious. It is still used externally, but concerns that it might be carcinogenic if taken internally have reduced its use massively.

In the garden, however, it is considered by organic gardeners to be more valuable than ever. The thick tap roots can break up hard clay soil, and can absorb valuable minerals. The leaves are especially rich iin potash, which is good for the likes of tomatoes, and the plants are so vigorous that they can be harvested three or four time a season. I have used my first cut of comfrey as a mulch for my newly planted tomatoes in the greenhouse, and they certainly seem to be growing away, but the usual way to deal with the leaves is to soak them in water for a few weeks. the resulting black liquid smells utterly vile, but it can be diluted 1:4 and used as a spray or foliar feed.comfrey (2)I’m hoping for a bumper crop!

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