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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22 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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