I have 6 comfrey plants that are quite healthy. I occasionally fertilize them with urine and they are growing like mad. I need to cut them down as they are starting to bud out.
At this point, my garden is nicely fertile, but earlier this spring some of my new wood chip garden beds still needed some extra fertility. I did add comfrey via chop & drop but that was not exactly a quick fertility boost. At the time I wished I had comfrey extract/tea to spray on my newly emerging veggies. A goal I have for next year is to need no fertilizer of any kind that does not originate from my own land.
With this in mind I did think about the merits of comfrey tea, but from what I have read, comfrey tea takes some time to brew up, and as I needed this in early spring I did not have time to either grow it or brew it. I was thinking that for next year I could brew some in advance and let it sit over winter. However I am afraid that letting it sit for months would give my s moldy, anaerobic mess. Does anyone know of a way to prepare comfrey tea in advance or is there a better way to utilize comfrey early in the season? I will/am applying cut comfrey to my beds check d a regular basis, but if there is a better approach, I would love to hear.
We make our comfrey tea in 120 litre batch.... "cook it" for 2 weeks, then use it throughout the garden everywhere, then make a fresh batch up. We skim the maggots/larvae off of the top for the birds as well as it is brewing, and the like that. We have comfrey all over our property and cop and drop throughout the year, from first flush in March through to dying on the plant in late autumn. Has done us well for 4 years and as a mulch it has proven to be invaluable too.
Hau, RedHawk. Have you actually done this with comfrey, or would you recommend trying? In other words, drying leaves in the fall and storing them up to have ready to make comfrey tea in the spring, before the plant has come back for the year? Do you think this would be a good fertilizer/mineral supplement? As effective, or close, as using fresh leaf?
Also Eric, I'm interested in your comfrey management... you say,
I need to cut [my comfrey plants down] as they are starting to bud out
I don't manage my comfrey plants at all, except to harvest, which I do whenever the spirit moves me. And of course the flowers attact pollinators like crazy, so I like it to be in flower. What is the idea behind whacking them back at the blooming stage?
hau Dave, Yes I dry the comfrey plants (stalk and leaves) and vacuum pack them for spring time use.
I do chop and drop as well but I give some of the plants time to grow for harvesting for tea.
One of the best ways I have found to use it is to spray the root area of my fruittrees just before I lay down a new mulch layer, I have done the same this year to our vegetable areas and it seems to be helping.
The one area I didn't spray with the tea was where we planted the zucchini , which are now wiped out by the dang squash beetles that hit us harder than ever this year.
I will be trying a few different tea sprays to see if I can find a formula that will at least chase the buggers off and make them not want to comeback.
As far as if it is as good as fresh leaves; It is my opinion that by drying the leaves the active components become more concentrated, so by using the same measure of dried leaves I get a stronger tea than if they were fresh leaves.
This is something I am investigating over this and next year to be able to come to some validated conclusions.
For longer term storage have you considered making FPJ Fermented Plant Juice using the Korean Natural Farming method. I have no direct experience but am planning on using it later this year with my comfrey. From what I understand it can be used the same way as comfrey tea but it is a bit more stable once fermentation stops. Just thought I would add this in case others might have used that method.
Have you tried using the extraction method where you take a container with a hole in the bottom (and cut off from UV rays), press in a pile of comfrey leaves, cover then place the container on some bricks and put a collection container underneath ?
I keep my comfrey tea covered from the sun, and I wonder if that might keep it viable a bit longer? I keep adding leaves and water to the original mix, and it just gets thicker, stinkier, and I hope, stronger. I call it my stinky water, and warn my community members when I use it. They appreciate that, LOL!