Comfrey My Garden Back to Life
(27 March 2014)
Comfrey, Symphytum officinale, would have to be one of the most versatile plants you could ever hope to grow in the home garden. Aside from simple aesthetics, this plant has a mountain of practical uses (one of the mountains you get to the top of only to see the other side and endless mountains off into the distance), making it a permaculture garden staple. Amongst its many applications, this herbaceous perennial herb is commonly used as a weed stop, forage and mulch plant, compost activator, and a particularly nutritious fertiliser tea.
Growing to around 1m in height and spread, comfrey is a fast-growing, prolific plant with mauve bell-like flowers during summer and autumn (in cold climates that is, doesn’t tend to flower in warmer areas due to lack of winter chill). Its strong, deep roots mine minerals and aerate the surrounding soil, benefiting nearby plants. Comfrey can grow anywhere from full sun to part shade in both exposed and protected areas. Reliable watering ensures good leaf production, allowing for multiple harvests throughout the growing season.
Comfrey can easily be propagated by laterally planting pieces of root around 3cm in length during spring. Due to this innate ability, watch you don’t disturb their roots once planted or you will end up with a whole lot more comfrey than you bargained for. It is, however, simple to remove by covering in damp newspaper and mulch, causing it to rot and leave lovely rich soil in its wake.