Have you ever wondered if you could ditch the store bought fertilizer and use what is in your garden? After realizing that even organic fertilizer may have unwanted animal ingredients, I decided to make comfrey fertilizer which is rich in nutrients. It grows like a weed in my garden. A girl can only harvest so much. So why not use it for the garden?
As an herb, comfrey is used to heal swellings, inflammations and sores.
However, in the garden, it is a rich food source and can aid in breaking down your compost, helping seedlings grow, and as a comfrey ferilizer foliar spray for your plants.
Comfrey’s NPK profile:
There are numerous fertilizers on the market for various plants. Each will contain a label which will display its nutrients as well as its NPK ratio. The NPK acronym means “the percentage the product contains by volume of nitrogen (chemical symbol N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).”
A general fertilizer has equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, since this ratio will meet most plant needs. However, you might be wasting your money since your soil may already have sufficient amounts of phosphorous and potassium. Always soil test to see what your soil is lacking.
Note, most soil tests cannot test for nitrogen since it is too volatile. One day it might be one number and the next day another number.
Comfrey’s NPK profile is 1.8- .5-5.3. Compost tea’s profile is anywhere from .5-.5-.5 to 4-4-4 depending on what is used. Kelp powder’s profile is 1.5- .5-2.5. As you can see, comfrey has a good profile for garden use.
It also contains B-12 so it is a rich food source for your plants.
Furthermore, while I am waving the comfrey flag, scientists at Moscow State University used comfrey as a foliar spray to stop powdery mildew spores from germinating on wheat plants. Powdery mildew is a hot button in the garden. It loves my squash, watermelon and melon leaves.
Get the Right Comfrey Plant
Before you run out to grab a comfrey plant, common comfrey (Symphytum officinale) self seeds and can become invasive. I have Russian comfrey, “Bocking 14” (Symphytum xuplandicum.) It was bred to be sterile.
How to Grow Comfrey
Comfrey can grow in part shade to full sun. It is hardy in zones 3 to 9. I live in zone 6 and cut it at least 4 time a season when it blossoms. It is about 1.5 feet high by 1.5 feet wide. Root cutting can be used to create new plants.
Word of caution. Plant it once. If you move it, then one little snippet of root will produce a new plant. See the below video of my comfrey plant.
Also, it is quite hairy and the leaves will scratch you. Wear glove when harvesting it.
So how can comfrey benefit your garden?
#1 Add Comfrey Leaves to Your Compost
In the past, I would add the not so pretty bottom leaves to my compost heap to speed up the break down of the compost.
Generally, if you have too much brown in your compost such as leaves, the comfrey adds greens but speeds up the breakdown of compost.
#2 Add to Seedlings
When planting seedlings in the garden, add fresh cut up comfrey leaves to the planting holes. The leaves break down quickly and add nutrients right at the root level.
#3 Use Comfrey Leaves As Mulch
Freshly cut comfrey leaves are high in potassium. They benefit vegetables (especially cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes) berries and fruit trees.
On the converse, using comfrey as mulch with root crops or leafy greens like spinach may cause them to bolt earlier.
#4 Use a Comfrey Fertilizer Foliar Spray
This method is my favorite way to use comfrey.
- Simply add cut up comfrey leaves. I use a 5 gallon bucket which has a lid.
- Weigh it down with a brick or rock.
- Put the lid on and wait about 3 to 4 weeks. (I left mine in the garage.) Many articles that I read indicated that decomposing comfrey smells foul. I didn’t find the comfrey to smell.
- After three weeks, the comfrey leaves will be a dark green goo.
- Strain the comfrey and use the liquid with 15 parts water to one part comfrey goo in your garden. Note: if you don’t strain (which I didn’t do) it will gunk up your backpack sprayer.
It is great to use on stressed plants to get them back on track.
Alternatively, you can add water to the fresh comfrey leaves (3 parts to 1 water to comfrey) to create a ready to use diluted product. I have never used this method but I heard it smells pretty bad.
How to Use Comfrey Foilar Spray
I was too late to use the comfrey on my pumpkins and squash to circumvent powdery mildew. However, I will be spraying it on my lawn in the fall to help when I reseed.
My tomatoes and peppers are so stressed out from lack of sun and too much water. I figure this foliar spray has to help.
Join the Conversation:
Do you use comfrey fertilizer as a foliar sprayer?