August 24, 2015

Finally! Comfrey

I've wanted to grow comfrey for several years now, ever since learning about its herbal properties and medicinal use.


Until now, I've bought dried comfrey from my local health food store to use in my salves. That worked just fine, but I'd like to be able to produce my own. It has so many more uses.

It wasn't as easy as buying a packet of seeds though. I wanted the Russian variety of comfrey called "Bocking No. 14" which doesn't grow true from seed, it has to be grown from root cuttings. That meant buying some roots online.

I'd been given some recommendations of places online to buy comfrey roots, but ultimately I decided to support a "little guy" and buy them from Rise and Shine Rabbitry.


I had to wait until the rabbitry folks were able to dig the comfrey in the spring, much later in Maine than spring in Oklahoma. When it was time (I'd stuck a post-it note in my planner to remind me) I placed my order for four large root cuttings. The box arrived just as promised, but now I was rethinking where I should plant them, since our neighbor's cows had come visiting again and had eaten that area down to the ground. Plus I was frantically getting ready for all of our children and their spouses and children to descend on us for a visit, so I set the box down and...

...two months later I remembered the comfrey! I opened the box, expecting to find dried-out roots that I desperately hoped would revive if I soaked them in water overnight before planting. The roots were packed in a plastic shopping bag which was wound tight and taped shut. Another bag inside that one was also tightly wrapped and taped. Inside that one, a packet of still-damp newspaper enclosed the large brown roots, with white shoots growing from the ends. Those roots had thrived inside their damp, dark package for two months and were full of life and vitality!


I can't say enough about the care the seller put into wrapping, packing and shipping my purchase. The webpage said that they include extras in the package to help make up for the shipping costs. I'd ordered four large roots, and there were two small roots in the packet as well.

I did soak the roots in water for about ten minutes and wrapped them in paper toweling overnight before planting them, just in case. I still haven't figured out the perfect place to plant them - you would think that I could decide on a spot somewhere on our forty acres, wouldn't you? But I don't want those errant cows to wipe out the patch before it's well established.

Comfrey doesn't like containers, it prefers to thrust its roots deep into the soil. Those long roots bring up minerals to ground level, which makes them accessible to shallow-rooted plants and is one of the advantages of growing this plant. But I planted them - temporarily - in a metal tub near the herb garden because they needed to go in the dirt immediately. This way I can keep an eye on them as they grow too. I'll transplant them later to another place - or several places. Yes, two patches might be a good idea, don't you think?

The wire top keeps my dogs from digging in the dirt.

About a week ago the first green leaves popped out of the ground, and this morning there are four little plants. I have my own comfrey!



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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24 comments:

  1. Do like I did. Keep some roots going in the container and divide and plant out from the container. If something kills your planted out comfrey, not all will be lost.

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    1. Now that's a good idea, Susan. It's evidently resilient enough to survive my neglect so growing in a large container hopefully won't kill it.

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    2. Now that's a good idea, Susan. It's evidently resilient enough to survive my neglect so growing in a large container hopefully won't kill it.

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    3. Comfrey is hard to stop once it gets started. I planted mine from four, one cm, pieces of root and they are rocketing along.

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  2. Just found your blog this summer and LOVE IT!
    The medicinal properties of comfrey is abundant! We have 8 Comfrey plants on our property and people passing by ask for a cutting. Just make sure that where you plant them, is where you want them for a long time. Their roots are so deep, that removing a full grown plant is next to impossible.

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    1. Sharon, those many medicinal (and other beneficial) properties are why I wanted my own plants! It's good to know that it's hard to kill. Perhaps it can withstand the neighbor's cows after all, although I'm sure not going to put all of my pants in that spot just in case.

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  3. How exciting! My, you certainly are the patient one. Can't wait to hear what you do with it! Enjoy!

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  4. Daisy, I'm afraid it's more a matter of forgetfulness than patience!

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  5. Hi Kathi!
    You know the saying - don't put all your eggs in one basket! So, maybe don't put all your comfrey in one patch is a good idea, too! It's not something I've ever grown, but is definitely one of the things I want in my (eventual) perennial medicinal/edible landscape, when we get that land. I didn't know about the benefits it has for the ground, but don't find it surprising - just more good news.
    We're now watching the daily weather averages for several points in the state we want to move to, in preparation to hunt for land. That state has quite a bit of difference in average climate (temps, elevation, precipitation, etc) between the various points, and we need to take as much of the guess work out of it, as possible - we're not spring chickens, any more, and don't have much time to waste! LOL

    Carla

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  6. That's excellent planning, Carla - how smart! Yes, I know what you mean, eventually it's almost a do-it-now-or-don't-bother situation.

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  7. I've never heard of Comfrey. Thanks for sharing at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home!

    Jennifer

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  8. Jennifer, comfrey is an awesome plant with so many uses. It's well worth growing!

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  9. How incredible that the plants would last like that, Kathi! They certainly look like they are thriving now. I have heard of comfrey but never actually used it. I understand it is incredibly useful and versatile. Thank you so much for sharing this post with us at Hearth and Soul. Sharing.

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  10. Thank you, April. I'm amazed that it survived my neglect, and it's thriving now that it's in the soil.

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  11. Congrats on the success. I've been trying to grow comfrey for over 2 years and still have not succeeded. Of course I live in Phoenix and supposedly it won't grow here, but I'm stubborn and have to keep trying, I really want it to grow!I have at least managed to get a tiny seedling through this summer so far, it's in a pot in the shade right now.

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  12. I'm sorry it's been so difficult, Connie. My metal tub is in partial shade. I've found that many "full sun" plants need some shade in the summer here, it's just so hot. I did read that they need to be well-watered, at least at first. I wish you success!

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  13. Thanks for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. I am so glad that your comfrey is growing well now. Blessings

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  14. It is always fun to watch seedlings growth nowadays my two kids pull them to check the root, Hope your comfrey grows very well this time, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

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  15. Best of luck with your comfrey! I hope it continues to grow well for you.
    Thank you for joining the September Country Fair Blog Party!
    Laurie - Co-Host

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  16. Isn't growing comfrey rewarding? This was my big year for comfrey too. I bought 48 slips this spring, planted them under my new fruit trees and they have done wonderfully well. In fact, they are starting to bloom now. I chops up a leave of comfrey everyday for my chickens to eat and make a comfrey tea to feed to ailing plants, esp. tomatoes that are yellowing. I also cut the leaves back and add them to my compost as an activator Many homesteaders also "chop and drop" to fertilize their plants too. So many great uses for comfrey!! Donna at the Small House Big Sky Homestead.

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  17. Donna, yes, comfrey is an amazing plant! My little plants are growing like crazy and I love that they are so vigorous. You planted 48 of them- WOW!

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  18. Congratulations on the Comfrey! I've been wanting to grow some myself...I'll check out your supplier. thanks!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. We'd love to see you back again this week!

    Lisa

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  19. Just don't forget to plant your comfrey for two months, Lisa. LOL

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  20. That's really good to know, Malcolm. Mine have shot up and I'm surprised at their quick progress. Thank you for your reassurance that they'll keep at it and aren't fragile like some other plants.

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