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Comfrey with fruit trees in containers?

 
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I have about ten fruit trees of various types in pots, waiting until we have our own place to plant them in the ground (hopefully next spring).  Would it be beneficial to plant some comfrey in the pots now, or should I just wait until the trees are in the ground?
 
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I would wait. Comfrey gets very big pretty fast. I like to give it plenty of room.
 
Rosie Carducci
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Trace Oswald wrote:I would wait. Comfrey gets very big pretty fast. I like to give it plenty of room.


Good to know.  I've been having a difficult time getting it started, so thought it might be good to try to start it in the tree containers (5-gallon).
 
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I do companion plant in my pots but I wouldn't use Comfrey as trace mentioned, it gets big really fast.  I like putting a tree out in a mini polyculture when I can.  I guess it depends on how long your trees will be in pots.  

You could do an annual herb garden, plant some perennial flowers like Echinacea purpurea or just use a pretty cover crop like clover.   Just use something that is easy to prune or pull if it gets out of hand.  Comfrey is definitely not on that list.  

Just as a side note.  I'm planting my comfrey a little further from my trees than before.  I didn't realize how big it gets.  Some of my plants are five feet tall and almost as wide.
 
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Adding comfrey to small trees in small containers (5 gal for a tree is a small container) will ensure that the tree roots will not get the water or nutrients the tree needs for early life.

If you want to grow comfrey in containers, use separate containers to start and grow it in, that way you will be able to keep all plants and trees healthy while you wait to plant the trees out.
Even when  you do plant the trees, I would not put comfrey very close for the above reasons. You want your trees to get a good start and foot hold in their new soil and comfrey is not the ideal companion plant for new transplant trees.

Redhawk
 
Rosie Carducci
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Scott Foster wrote:I do companion plant in my pots but I wouldn't use Comfrey as trace mentioned, it gets big really fast.  I like putting a tree out in a mini polyculture when I can.  I guess it depends on how long your trees will be in pots.


I'm hoping to be able to get them into the ground next spring, early summer at the latest.  So, a year, maybe.
 

You could do an annual herb garden, plant some perennial flowers like Echinacea purpurea or just use a pretty cover crop like clover.


You mean, in the same pots with the trees?  I do have some herbs growing in other pots, but on the back patio where I can get to them quickly and easily to snip a few leaves, etc.  The trees are in the corner, away from the house, because I simply don't have room for them closer to the house.

Just as a side note.  I'm planting my comfrey a little further from my trees than before.  I didn't realize how big it gets.  Some of my plants are five feet tall and almost as wide.


Wow!  I didn't realize they get that big, either!
 
Rosie Carducci
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Adding comfrey to small trees in small containers (5 gal for a tree is a small container) will ensure that the tree roots will not get the water or nutrients the tree needs for early life.


Is there anything I can plant in the pots with the trees that will benefit the trees (i.e. feed the soil they're in), or should I just wait until they're in the ground?
 
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You can plant a nitrogen fixing cover crop mix.  Let it get 12 inches tall or so, and then snip it off at the base, leaving the roots (and all the nitrogen) in the ground with your tree roots.

https://www.groworganic.com/cover-crop-seeds.html

Agree with everyone above: comfrey gets big quickly, and will not play nice with your potted trees.
 
Scott Foster
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Rosie,

I agree with Marco.  A nitrogen-fixing crop mix or clover would be a nice addition to the pot and quite easy.  I really want to amp up my perennials so I've been planting Echinacea in the pots.  Last year I did yarrow.  If the flowers get too big I pull them and plant them out so that may not be an option.  I do think 5 gallon buckets

are big enough to handle smaller plants.

IMG_8857.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_8857.JPG]
Apple seedlings with Echinacea
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Rosie Carducci wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:Adding comfrey to small trees in small containers (5 gal for a tree is a small container) will ensure that the tree roots will not get the water or nutrients the tree needs for early life.


Is there anything I can plant in the pots with the trees that will benefit the trees (i.e. feed the soil they're in), or should I just wait until they're in the ground?



I don't allow anything to grow in the container of a tree Unless the container is a 50 gal. size, but even then, if the tree's trunk gets to a diameter of 3 inches, the tree roots will need all the space and moisture to keep the tree healthy.
Nitrogen is great but you can do that with a layer of compost on the surface of the container as a mulch layer. and that way the tree has room with no competition.

Once a tree is planted in ground, you don't want to plant anything within 8  inches of the trunk except for compost and that needs to be no closer than 3 inches of the trunk and fairly thin (around 1.5 inches deep).

Redhawk
 
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I like to look at the utility of the plants in question. If, like comfrey, they are dynamic hyperaccumulators and make really excellent nutritive teas for your gardens, I would expect them to gather all the resources within reach, because they grow so very large, and so very quickly, and return so much to plants and soil as mulch, fertiliser, or tea.

I would still grow comfrey, but would keep it out of the tree containers like I would dandelion, and for the same reasons. I love dandelions, but not in with a plant or crop that I wish to survive. The right plant for the right spot is the best idea. Container gardens, especially with small containers, are hard to keep fed, and competition in small containers is more fierce than in a garden bed, where root zones can ostensibly travel in paths around and away from competing interests.

As to planting anything with the trees in the small pots, I have a hard time arguing with kola Redhawk. That said, my third-floor balcony container garden, for purposes of keeping the soil covered and alive, now self-seeds with clovers, which we plant into, and trim down regularly to feed our Flemish Giant, who thinks it's candy and inhales it. Her poop makes excellent cool fertiliser, and my worms in the downstairs raised bed just love her wadded paper bedding.

If I wasn't growing anything in one of my garden containers, and if I didn't have a raised bed and verge elements of backyard common space, I would grow out lots of comfrey and make teas out of it, and maybe nettle, as I already do with crushed eggshell and lobster shell. I would also shred or tear up those leaves and experiment with using them as mulch on my heavy feeders. I would probably use that pot as a last-stage compost-to-dynamic accumulator processor, if I wanted the compost processed further than that, but to be frank, I typically empty my hot-composted, mostly-finished bin out on top of my raised bed to let the worms have a go. It's easier, and faster; the bed veritably writhes if I water it, and I have to be careful with my digging tools so as to not accidentally cut worms in half a half-dozen at a time.

Where space is limited, I tend to do companion planting at one-remove, except with specific compatible companion plants and guilds. I am going grab some half-price flats of marigolds for planting in the larger containers, but only one each, with the vast majority going in long window-boxes we have clamped to the cage surrounding our balcony. I will see if there are some young predatory insect-attracting species I can get for the same purpose, but again, those won't actually go in with trees or plants trying to grow food. I will essentially cultivate nitrogen-fixing chop-and-drop in wasted space around my rented outdoor space and import that to my gardens, to gather fertility from a larger area, and unused fertility, at that, and bolster my resources without risking stunting my intended crops.

-CK

 
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