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Comfrey used in lasagna gardening?  RSS feed

 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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Hi all,

First time poster.

I'm starting a lasagna garden this fall and have a question to ask those with more experience than myself. I understand that one makes layers of manure (nitrogen) and mulch (carbon) and allows this to break down to form the humus one is planting in. I will be using manure when I construct the garden and leaf litter gathered from my yard and the woods next to my house. I've read that comfrey can be grown and used as a green manure in order to provide plants and insects with the nitrogen they need to survive and thrive. The idea of being able to grow and use plants as a green manure to feed my garden is very appealing versus having to spend money on animal manure.

What I want to know is: Instead of having to buy more manure as the years pass, can I grow and solely use comfrey as my nitrogen layers after the garden is established? Would it be better to compost the comfrey and use the compost instead of the comfrey alone? Or should I just continue to buy animal manure?
 
Alex Brands
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I don't see any advantage to composting it first, comfrey leaves break down really quickly. A thick layer doesn't get slimy and stinky like grass clippings.

Keep in mind that the nitrogen in the comfrey has to come from somewhere, so your comfrey patch might poop out if you continually harvest it and there is no source of nitrogen for it. I have some growing around a goumi bush (Nitrogen fixing), and it has been going strong for several years while being harvested a couple times per season. I have read (in gaia's garden maybe?) that comfrey can take being fertilized with raw manure, so if you ever age manure on your property, I'd plant comfrey around the pile to capture some of the nitrogen that would otherwise leach away.

Alex
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies David,
Over here, we only have sterile Bocking cultivars; I won't get into the others, except to say I can't imagine comfrey that spreads by seed...
Comfrey is marvelous stuff, and I see it as being a vital part of my environment: the leaves are really high in protein, nitrogen, potassium.
The rules are (generally) that you only get out what you put in, and there's not all that many plants that love fresh manure, but in my experience comfrey and rhubarb can't get enough shit.
My biggest warming about comfrey is plant it where it can stay forever as it grows from every piece of root, and will also 'take' if the leaves are cut too low.
I see comfrey as a great permanentmulch plant, part of a fava bean, buckwheat, borage, whatever combo
but as far as nitrogen's conerned, I wouldn't think of it as my main source.
I don't have lawn, and I get the lawn guys to drop clippings. That is a lot of nitrogen!
 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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Thank you two so much; you are saving me a lot of headache and heartache. I'll make sure to plant nitrogen fixers and plant my comfrey around those. And I'll look for other forms of nitrogen to help fill the gap that comfrey will leave behind.

Thank you again, and any more ideas or suggestions would be welcome and appreciated.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I suggest checking the "Free" section of Craig'sList frequently.

Around here, I often see free manure offered (You load/haul).
Try to avoid manure from people who de-worm their animals with chemicals (it can kill your worms also!)
 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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John Polk wrote:I suggest checking the "Free" section of Craig'sList frequently.

Around here, I often see free manure offered (You load/haul).
Try to avoid manure from people who de-worm their animals with chemicals (it can kill your worms also!)


Wow, thanks! I didn't even consider that. You may have just saved me a lot of money.
 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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John Polk wrote:I suggest checking the "Free" section of Craig'sList frequently.

Around here, I often see free manure offered (You load/haul).
Try to avoid manure from people who de-worm their animals with chemicals (it can kill your worms also!)


Quick question. I've talked to someone on craigslist about free manure their offering and she said she de-worms her animals with antibiotics. I don't know if this will kill the worms in my soil or not. Since I'm totally new to this, can you tell me what de-worming chemicals I should ask about or research to learn more? I don't want to make a mistake and kill all the worms in my soil because I don't know what to watch out for.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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David, I'm pretty sure antibiotics aren't ever used as dewormers, and I really hope that's a word mix-up because that sounds nasty to me!
This thread might give you some more info on dewormers, manure and worms.
 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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Thank you for that link Leila. If it was a word mix up than it was the lady's mix up. She used the word antibiotics in the email reply she sent me. Thanks again for that link.
 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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John Polk wrote:I suggest checking the "Free" section of Craig'sList frequently.

Around here, I often see free manure offered (You load/haul).
Try to avoid manure from people who de-worm their animals with chemicals (it can kill your worms also!)


I just wanted to thank you again for your post. Because of your suggestion about using craigslist, I have built my lasagna garden for zero cost to me, not counting physical labor of course. You saved me so much money.

Thank you again.

David
 
edwin lake
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David Mayes wrote:
John Polk wrote:I suggest checking the "Free" section of Craig'sList frequently.

Around here, I often see free manure offered (You load/haul).
Try to avoid manure from people who de-worm their animals with chemicals (it can kill your worms also!)


I just wanted to thank you again for your post. Because of your suggestion about using craigslist, I have built my lasagna garden for zero cost to me, not counting physical labor of course. You saved me so much money.

Thank you again.

David


You have to be pretty selective about the manure you use. I would ask the horse owner if the hay she feeds her horses were treated with herbicide chemicals. Here is a link, http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/ncorganic/special-pubs/herbicide_carryover.pdf. The new herbicides do not breakdown in your horse digestive process and can remain active for three years after being pooped out. Here's another Mother Earth News article, http://www.motherearthnews.com/Grow-It/Milestone-Herbicide-Contamination-Creates-Dangerous-Toxic-Compost.aspx, article on the Milestone chemical being sold to unsuspecting hay farmers.

We have horses and believe that the manure is a great resource for our homestead. We have to be really careful about buying hay for them. It means asking the hay producer questions. You also can check for legumes in the hay as an indicator. I consider this a much greater threat than the worm treatment, although we use mostly natural methods for treating our horses and goats for worms, so we are pretty good in the worm area.
 
David Mayes
Posts: 14
Location: North Alabama
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Thankfully I saw and read posts on permies about that very topic, and asked the owner about the hay they fed them. The owner grows their own hay for the cattle and said they didn't use herbicide on the crop. If the owner is honest, all should be safe.
 
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