Gardeners and Their Tea – 4
Gardeners and Their Tea – 4
Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20
I plan to plant out more comfrey for this coming season – l have a single plant in the garden beds on the ornamental side and l ran it as a trial 2018 – 2019 to see how it took in the soil and it did remarkably well – so much so that l am now as said determined to plant more and grow more purely for the properties it serves with regards gardening.
You may not be familiar with comfrey, it is known for two main purposes – organic gardening and organic medicinal as in herbal properties. In so far as the garden goes, this wonderfully versatile plant serves us well with, mulching and soil enrichment, fertilisers, composting activator as well as accelerator primers and gardening teas. In my eyes, that is a wild bounty of use!
With the living plant you can harvest the leaves and either chop them up with the sole purpose of digging into the soil as a soil enrichment and solid fertilser, or lay the leaves on top of the soils near to plants as a mulcher as either a living mulcher as in green leaves or as a dead leaf mulcher. You can gather the leaves up and allow them to dry and then shred or crush up to act as a nutritious leaf mould potting compost material.
I ran with one plant last year, but it got mixed up with a runaway mint as well as a large domineering borage [ironically same family genus – see below] , so this year l plan to very specifically grow it on seperately in its own contanment purely for the likes of fertiliser and composting ability.
The leaves of the comfrey are famous for the amount of potassium they hold which is nearly three times more than farmyard manure – which is extraordinary! But equally they are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen and when all three are combined, this makes for an ideal growing medium for plants. The other beauty to the comfrey is that it can be harvested quite progressively during the season and the leaves will regrow.
There are four main appeals to the comfrey plant:
1] Digging it into the soil
By digging a trench in your flower beds, vegetable beds or even raised beds, you can lay comfrey leaves on the bottom of the trenchings, cover them with soil and plant on top. The leaves will over time leech the nutrients into the soil and of course the plant roots.
2] Adding it to your compost as an activator
Simply adding the leaves whatever the stage of their harvest as in dead, ageing or fresh into your compost pile at any stage or layer level. As they decompose/decompose further they will encourage and promote the heating up process and as such help to speed along the composting. if you are maintaining ‘leaf mould’ prouductions the addition of the leaves will once more aid the process of leaf decline and destruction. This particular form of leaf mould is ideal for potting composts.
3] Making compost tea.
Like all the previous ‘Teas’ in this series – making comfrey tea is no different – harvest leaves of plant, chop up or add whole to a water tight bin or container, l tend to use rubbish bins, add sufficient water to cover the leaves themselves and cover. Leave to steep for between 4 – 8 weeks and hey presto – your comfrey tea will be ready! A word of warning however – when making any of these fertiliser/compost teas …. have your containers out back somewhere – they can make quite noxious and nauseus smells!.
There is no need to dilute this mixture – you can either add the rotted leaves to your compost and dig over or continue to add fresh leaves to the container leaving the old in.
Place the leaves dead or alive as in ageing or freshly harvested around the plants themselves to adepth of between 3-5cm – the nutrients will seep into the soils – but equally the leaves will act as a weed reducer.
Some videos for easier viewing from the gardeners l follow:
Anyway l’ll take my leave of you now
Thanks for reading everyone, till the next time …