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If I grew a field full of comfrey...

 
David Hartley
Posts: 258
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What other plants would successfully grow up through them? (excluding trees)

I'm interested in doing so, in the future, for pasturing chickens and goats
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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That's a fiddly one. My comfrey dies down in winter, and most other things really slow down at least.
Questions: are you planning to grow a fertile variety, or a sterile Bocking cultivar?
What kind of spacing are you thinking between comfrey clumps? The sterile cultivars pretty much stay where they are if you don't disturb the roots, and you could easily grow mixed pasture between them if they are spaced out.
If the plan is a comfrey 'field', I dunno...
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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IMHO variety is better. Chickens love the cover they can get from brambles - so either raspberries/blackberries or maybe some rugged roses like rugosa - they could supply leaves for the goats and berries for the chickens not to mention shade and cover. You'd have to fence the goats away from the actual plants, tho or they'd destroy them, but you could set it up so the goats keep them pruned to a nice hedge. I like cattle panels because the chickens can go through them but the goats can't. But they can stick their heads through and reach about a foot in, so keep that in mind if you go that route.

My chickens also really benefitted from mulberry and black cherry trees. I'm noticing how much more I have to feed them now that we don't have those trees (new home).

Clover would probably grow around the comfrey, and if you're really enterprising you could broadcast some sunflower seeds, corn and grains like barley, wheat, oats, depending on the time of year. They all make for good grazing and if they manage to make seedheads that's even more food. Black eyed peas are another possibility - easy to grow and make good feed. If you don't care if some of the comfrey gets shaded out then you could plant some winter squash or pumpkins among them. The seeds are good dewormers, and both chickens and goats will eat the squash (especially if you cook it for them, but mine are kind of spoiled!)
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 171
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Clover grows well with comfrey, and chickens prefer clover to almost anything else. I learned from reading Fukuoka to sow clover everywhere.
 
David Hartley
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Thank you for the great replies


My hope (depending on the property yet to be aquired)... Is to have a lot set aside for growing the officinalis variety. Perhaps with white clover and chickweed as a winter ground cover... Like the recommendation for some shrubs; especially rugosa and/or some nitrogen fixing species.


I do plan on propagating lots and lots of bocking #4 as well, but more in a "landscaped" fashion and as part of a polyculture field... Would love to grow peas, beans, squash, etc. Bit that will depend on where I end up. As here on the PNW coast, our summers don't get warm enough


Would plants like the Sunchoke be able to push themselves up through a thick patch of officinalis (comfrey)?
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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I'm pretty sure it will, especially if the comfrey isn't very well established yet. The sunchokes I grew were kind of thin and weak the first year but then they got really strong after that, to the point it was really hard to get rid of them again.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Oops, I somehow ignored 'goats'!
As has been mentioned, goats really need browse and I can't envision it actually being planted for them, but I'm only familiar with goats being used to manage existing growth like blackberries/roses.
I'd do my homework before planting as wild bramble varieties can 'jump the fence' and get really out of hand.
Can you grow tagasaste? Great coppicing browse, chop and drop, very early flowering bee food, nitrogen-fixing, chickens will even eat it....
it's also considered a problem in some areas.
I think Jerusalem artichokes and comfrey could well grow together, but I only know Bocking.
 
Mateo Chester
Posts: 148
Location: Zone 4b
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My comfrey does well in pots with a clover cover. I can imagine it translating to your field quite well.
 
David Hartley
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I like the idea of tagasaste for winter feeding... Probably would survive the winters right on the coast, but not the lack of summer... Inland summers would be great, but their winters probably too cold...

However; I definitely need to investigate more coppicable shrubs that will do well here... So I am very glad you mentioned it
 
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