How to Make a Liquid Fertilizer Using Comfrey

by: Sara on 05/16/2017

I have a comfrey plant that comes back stronger and bigger every year. The bees love it and I always have more than I can use. I used to think its growth might have something to do with the forgotten jack-o-lantern left to compost on its place in the garden,  but according to Darrell Frey and Michelle Czolba's new book, The Food Forest Handbook: Design and Manage a Homes-scale Perennial Polyculture Garden, comfrey is an accumulator plant, which means it gathers various essential minerals in the soils and when it sheds leaves or dies back, the nutrients are returned to the soil, enriching it.

Comfrey is also one of the most common plants added to food forests. "Comfrey flowers over a long season and therefore provides habitat for pollinating and other beneficial insects. Its roots go deep into the ground and access nutrients beyond the reach of many more shallowly rooted plants." Because of its ability to access nutrients comfrey makes a stellar fertilizer for other plants that may need a boost. See below for a liquid fertilizer recipe using comfrey from The Food Forest Handbook.

Borland Green Foof Forest Apple guild credit Darrell Frey

Comfrey as a component of the borland green food forest apple guild

Comfrey is a stellar food forest plant with many uses. If you have a plant that requires more nutrients or you just want to give it some extra love, comfrey brew is a good and free option. Its smell is horrifying, but often in nature there are many horrifying scents that mean fertility.

Ingredients

Comfrey leaves and roots (enough to loosely pack a five-gallon bucket)

Water

 

 

 

Materials

Large bins

Pruning shears, scissors, or knife

Gloves

Cotton fabric or metal screen

Directions:

  1. Have a large bin or several five-gallon buckets ready. With the scissors or shears, chop the plant material up to small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the more quickly the bacteria will decompose them and the easier for the nutrients to be released.
  2. Fill the bins with freshly chopped comfrey plant material (leaves, stems, and roots are all acceptable). The buckets or bins should be loosely filled to the top with plant material. Pour fresh water to cover the plants and stir with a large stick.
  3. Cover the bins to prevent bugs from getting in. Air needs to be able to get in so if using a lid, leave it slightly ajar. Allow to steep for at least one and up to four weeks. Make sure to stir at least once a week to allow air into the mix. The brew is considered finished when it has a very strong smell of rot or manure.
  4. When it is time to strain, place another clean bucket under the screen or cotton fabric and run the finished comfrey brew through it.
  5. The resulting liquid is your undiluted fertilizer.It can be used straight but as it is very powerful, it is recommended to dilute it 1:10 parts    water. Other plants can be used as well to make an herbal fertilizer brew, including dandelion leaves, plantain, and nettles.

 

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