Monday, January 25, 2010

Comfrey - a list of its uses and benefits

Comfrey has become a well used plant around our lifestyle block.  I was previously completely unaware of its existence or uses.  Here are a few things it can be used for;

Comfrey is very rich in Potassium, Nitrogen & Phosphates, so makes an excellent fertilizer in a variety of ways;

Comfrey liquid fertiliser - can be produced by either rotting leaves down in rainwater for 4–5 weeks to produce a ready to use 'comfrey tea’. We have some on the go constantly and frequently use it as a liquid fertiliser.

Use comfrey as a mulch – A 5 cm layer of comfrey leaves placed around a crop will slowly break down and release plant nutrients. It is especially useful for crops that need extra potassium, such as fruit bearers but also potatoes. Avoid using flowering stems as these can root.

Include comfrey in the compost heap - to add nitrogen and help to heat the heap. It’s a great compost activator. Comfrey should not be added in large quantities as it will quickly break down into a dark sludgy liquid that needs to be balanced with more fibrous, carbon rich material.

If you make your own leaf mould potting mix, then add a little comfrey to it also to further enrich it.

It can be added to salads, as it tastes like mild cucumber.

It attracts bees.

We feed comfrey to our chickens.  It is a high protein, low fibre feed source.

It can also be fed to, or made available to, other animals, including pigs. Organic farmers say that the stock will eat a lot of it or perhaps none at all, which suggests that they will eat it if they need what the plant contains.

Comfrey is one of natures greatest medicinal herbs - it has been used since about 400 BC as a wound healer and bone-knitter. Comfrey was used to treat a wide variety of ailments ranging from bronchial problems, broken bones, sprains, arthritis, gastric and varicose ulcers, severe burns, acne and other skin conditions.

A simple practical home use is to use it for any swelling. Bruise the leaves and wrap the injury with a wet bandage containing the leaves.

Apparently both the roots and the leaves of comfrey contain alkaloids, and these have been found to cause liver damage and interfere with iron absorption in high concentrations. So all things in moderation. Also it should never be applied to open wounds or broken skin.

We haven’t really explored comfreys food or medicinal uses, but we are sold on its gardening and stock feed uses.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing plant. I will try using it in our garden and compost - hopefully we will get some good results too. A few varicose veins could benefit from its use too - anazing!