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comfrey only, compost tea

 
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Hi Eric,

I'm curious about your thoughts regarding comfrey tea -- comfrey being the only ingredient.  It would seem that comfrey turns to mush so much faster than other plants, so the tea byproduct happens in just a matter of days.  Whereas when you throw other plants/weeds/leaves in a bucket, they can take a week or much longer to break down and make tea, even when you are stirring them actively.  Some barely break down even after two or more weeks.

So, is there any benefit or drawback in using plants (like comfrey) that seem to break down much quicker and turn into a tea quicker, other than the obvious time savings/immediacy?

Good to have you here!

m
 
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Welcome to Eric and kudos on choosing an interesting topic. I want to quote Marco Banks:
[I'm curious about your thoughts regarding comfrey tea -- comfrey being the only ingredient. ]
The only compost teas I've made are lazy versions of comfrey tea--just chop it down, put it in a bucket, then pour the water on my plants after a week or so. I sometimes also through in squash leaves that I've picked to eliminate the squash bug eggs on them. I'm never sure (that is I haven't done any rigorous studies on) whether it helps, but my intuition says it's good for brassica crops. I'll look forward to people's comments on comfrey tea specifically and in general. I never thought of using a bubbler for aeration, but then I'm kind of a newbie here....
 
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I've wondered the same thing. The fast breakdown is one reason I like using comfrey. Read a few minutes ago about using compost tea in seed balls. Going to give it a try, starting with comfrey tea. (why doesn't the permie spell checker recognize comfrey?)
 
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So, is there any benefit or drawback in using plants (like comfrey) that seem to break down much quicker and turn into a tea quicker, other than the obvious time savings/immediacy?

Good to have you here!



Hi Marco, thanks for your kind words.

Comfrey is the darling of organic growers the world over. It breaks down quicker so it will become anaerobic quicker, but some people are Ok with that. The speed of decomposition is a good feature and it can be used as an extract without water with an easy method. It is all good really but bear in mind it is mildly toxic so you don't want to be consuming any of it directly; don't spray it on your salad leaves just prior to consumption (eg.Symphytum officinale).
Comfrey-and-Author.jpg
[Thumbnail for Comfrey-and-Author.jpg]
Hanging out with the Comfrey and the Bees
 
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The blue flowers on your comfrey indicates that it is the Bocking 4 variety?
 
eric fisher
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Welcome to Eric and kudos on choosing an interesting topic. I want to quote Marco Banks:
[I'm curious about your thoughts regarding comfrey tea -- comfrey being the only ingredient. ]
The only compost teas I've made are lazy versions of comfrey tea--just chop it down, put it in a bucket, then pour the water on my plants after a week or so. I sometimes also through in squash leaves that I've picked to eliminate the squash bug eggs on them. I'm never sure (that is I haven't done any rigorous studies on) whether it helps, but my intuition says it's good for brassica crops. I'll look forward to people's comments on comfrey tea specifically and in general.




Cheers Ellen,
I have one or two comments and suggestions.  Lazy version is fine, better if you stir it more.  Self-plagiarising 'it is rich in phosphorus and potassium so it is very good  for fruiting plants such as such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers' You can include your squash in this list. '...is also a good source of manganese, calcium, iron and cobalt' (pp.73).

Regarding your brassica's the extra calcium is going to help. Comfrey is not really high in nitrogen, but brassica only need moderate amounts, even so it might be worth looking for further (N) sources to bump it up a bit, like nettles for instance.

Regarding your squash bugs, I haven't applied this with comfrey  because if I was going to use something other botanicals draw my attention more in this area. Looking a little further into this, in nature comfrey can really take care of itself. It contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) it wouldn't surprise me if your bugs didn't like it because some organisms are known to sequester (PAs) as part of their defences. Take note (PAs) are 10 times stronger in the roots so for nuking the poor bugs this may be the best part to use.

Hope that helps.


 
eric fisher
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I've wondered the same thing. The fast breakdown is one reason I like using comfrey. Read a few minutes ago about using compost tea in seed balls. Going to give it a try, starting with comfrey tea. (why doesn't the permie spell checker recognize comfrey?)



Hi Mike,

Glad you are having a go with the seeds balls. I haven't done it using comfrey tea only  as the moisture for working the balls. Will you tell me how you get on ?  I have made seed balls  a number of times and it always surprises me how quickly the germination processes kick in. It is good to use a variety of seeds that work well together, trouble it is so interesting that I want to put all the balls in plant pots just to watch the processes unfolding.

**Remember** if you are broadcasting like Masanobu Fukuoka you've got to chuck them before they germinate. I have a little hack for you - cat litter, but it has got to be the right kind.
Seed-Ball-with-Germination.jpg
[Thumbnail for Seed-Ball-with-Germination.jpg]
 
eric fisher
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The blue flowers on your comfrey indicates that it is the Bocking 4 variety?



Hi Burl, I don't tend to use Bocking 14 because I relish the wild comfrey's vigour and don't mind them spreading out a bit. I also enjoy the hypnotic effect of being surrounded by the buzzing of bees which the free living comfrey facilitates.
 
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