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April 4, 2016

Why You Should Grow Comfrey


Last spring I ordered comfrey roots, something I'd planned to do for a long time. 

A washtub full of comfrey plants

I'm growing Russian comfrey Bocking No. 14. Russian comfrey doesn't grow from seed, it has to be grown from root cuttings. I bought mine online from Rise and Shine Rabbitry. Planting it was an amusing story which you can read here... but I don't recommend that you do what I did!

My four plants came up early this spring and withstood several frosts. They've grown very fast in just a few weeks and look strong and healthy. 
Comfrey in early spring.

They are already too big for the washtub where I planted them last year, but it was just a temporary nursery for them. I'll need to transplant them to other places this year. 

Comfrey has many benefits and is certainly worth the space it takes up in the garden. You can buy the dried herb at a health food store, but you might want to grow your own. Here are a few of its uses:

Medicinal

Comfrey is also known as "knitbone" and "bone-set". It contains allantoin which heals connective tissue. It's also amazing medicine on cuts, scrapes, swelling and rashes. 

I've made salves, adding comfrey to the usual plantain/yarrow/lemon balm infused oil that I've used in the past. One year I used a comfrey-infused oil (without beeswax so it wasn't a salve) to rub on one of the horses were she'd cut her face; it healed up without a scar. Later I also used that oil on one of my cats, Bullet, who has a persistent sore behind one ear. Whenever it begins to heal, he scratches it again with the claws on his hind foot, opening the sore again and starting the process all over. The comfrey oil has made great improvements on this wound, and "sticks" better to fur than salve or ointment does.

Comfrey plants have outgrown the nursery.

Compost accelerator

Throw a few comfrey leaves in your compost pile, or better yet, make some "comfrey juice" and add it to your soil or compost heap.

Mulch

Lay comfrey leaves on the soil around your plants. It will enrich the soil while it blocks weeds.

Soil enriching

Comfrey sends its long roots deep into the soil and mines the minerals that lay deep below the surface, bringing them up where your other plants can access them.

Livestock feed

Some people say that their goats don't like comfrey, but mine fight over it, both fresh and dried. It's also a good feed for sheep, pigs, cattle, chickens, ducks, horses and other animals. Dried comfrey has a very high protein content. There is some controversy that comfrey taken internally might affect the liver, so do some research on this subject before deciding how much comfrey to give your livestock.

Comfrey is certainly an excellent plant to grow on your homestead. Do you already have a comfrey patch, or is it on your to-plant list?


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor a vet. You are responsible for your own health and for that of your animals. Comfrey is not to be used by pregnant or nursing women, and should not be taken internally by humans. Please research this or any other herb or essential oil before using.



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


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38 comments:

  1. I had comfrey growing in my herb bed a while ago but I think it's been taken over by a particularly invasive oregano plant - I might have to find some more!

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    1. Maybe you could move the oregano? Or else do get more comfrey and plant it in another spot. I can't get oregano to grow!

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  2. Wowie Wow Wow! Ok I have to admit that I have never heard of Comfrey. I am also glad you posted a link of where to purchase because I would have been looking at the seeds for hours! So glad I read this. Wonderful information!

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful, Ginger. Comfrey is a garden treasure, and I hope you'll decide to grow some.

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  3. It sounds like a very beneficial addition to the garden!

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  4. We discovered Comfrey a couple years ago and are always finding new ways to use it around the homestead. Great article.

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I'm glad you stopped by.

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  5. The things I learn! I've not heard of this plant so thanks for all the info!

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    1. You're welcome, Betty.

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  6. Great post - I hadn't thought of the benefits of comfrey for animals, but recently experienced it with my husband's injury http://seekingjoyfulsimplicity.com/healing-with-comfrey/. I would mention that once you plant it, it can be difficult to remove it - any root pieces left behind will sprout new plants! This is our second year with comfrey in the garden, and they are absolutely amazing and versatile - I wish everyone knew about it! Thanks for posting. Visiting from the Farm Hop!

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    1. Comfrey is an amazing plant. Thank you for sharing your story!

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  7. Thanks for sharing with another great post on comfrey thanks for sharing with Hearth soul blog hop.

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  8. I love comfrey! Every time a family member or I get hurt a combo of comfrey and plantain is mixed up and the results are just amazing. Great article!

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    1. Comfrey and plantain are both amazing herbs, aren't they, Jenny? Thanks for sharing!

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  9. We have grown comfrey for a couple of years now. We use it as chop/drop mulch around fruit trees, comfrey/compost tea, and treats for our rabbits and chickens.

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    1. Thank you for these tips on more ways to use comfrey!

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  10. Linda Stacy11:22 PM

    I used to grow comfrey to doctor my horses when we had acreage. I'd dry it and make a very dark tea out of it and refrigerate. I would soak a rag in it and wrap around a sore muscle, knee pain, a kick from another horse, sprains. It takes the swelling down and reduces the water on joints. This stuff really works! Now I buy it at the health food store if I need some. Yes, I use it on us too!

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    1. More great uses. Thank you, Linda.

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  11. I don't mean to sound silly, but can comfrey grow wild? because I think I've seen this plant around the farm! My cows and pigs love to eat it....

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  12. Jamie, comfrey is native to Russia and Europe. It was imported to Britain, and from there it was imported to Canada. So while it isn't native here, it has been naturalized. One type of comfrey is spread by seeds and you could easily have wild plants spread by birds. The kind I have spreads by roots instead. Both are very useful though - medicinally and as feed for livestock.

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  13. Kelinci suka makan comfrey.
    kelinci

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    1. Translated: "Rabbits like to eat comfrey."
      Thank you, Kelinci. I don't have rabbits, wild or domestic, but I bought my comfrey from someone who raises rabbits. He grows it to feed to his rabbits.

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  14. Why do some say that you can take it internally and other say you can take it only externally I don't understand is it poisonous just asking

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    1. That's an excellent question. Comfrey is not poisonous nor toxic. Some studies show that it might cause cancer if taken internally in large quantities. For this reason I'm not going to say it's safe to take internally. I'm just being cautious; I'd hate to say it's perfectly safe and then have someone suffer for my advice so I'm not going to say it's safe or that it isn't. I hope that you will do your own research and decide whether or not it is safe for you. We are all responsible for our own health and I believe we are all capable of making informed decisions.

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  15. Kathi, thanks for the info on comfrey. Reading about it has me stirred up to revive my herb garden.

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  16. I never heard of comfrey until now. This sounds amazing! So many benefits!

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    1. It really is amazing, Christina, and well worth a spot in your garden!

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  17. Comfrey has been on my list of things to add to the garden for a while. I usually order dried online. However, after reading your post, I will try to move it to the top of the list. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It'll be a good addition to your garden, Ann. Go for it!

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  18. I had heard of comfrey, but I didn't really know anything about it. I was really interested to read this post, Kathi. I had no idea comfrey was so versatile, nor that humans are not supposed to eat it. It's a very pretty plant as well and would look nice in the garden as well as being very useful. Thank you for sharing this post with us at Hearth and Soul. Sharing on the Hearth and Soul Facebook page.

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    1. Bees love it too! It's very worth the space it takes in a garden, April.

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  19. I've never heard of this before. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday Blog Hop!

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    1. Now you've had your eyes opened, Katy. :-)

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  20. Anonymous7:22 AM

    I've began my comfrey from a cutting over 20 years ago. Still have the original plant that grew from the cutting, and have split the plant several times. It just keeps growing and growing. I can't miss any pieces of the plant when I cut it back because it will take off wherever it drops! I do love all of the medicinal and non-medicinal uses for comfrey as well.

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    1. It is very determined and durable, isn't it? A great plant for a gardener who needs the encouragement of a plant that is very hard to kill.

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