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Planting Comfrey  RSS feed

 
                                            
Posts: 12
Location: Tacoma, WA - Zone 7b
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I recently got some Russian comfrey cuttings--mainly to grow green manure for my compost pile and perhaps for some chickens down the road.  Since I don't really have fruit trees where I want to accumulate nutrients, where should I plant them? 

I have a blueberry patch and some grape vines.  Any reason why I shouldn't plant them there?  I can plant them around some nice Gary oak trees, too.

Any other ideas or recommendations?  Thanks!

-Eric
 
                    
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I put mine (divided one plant into 2 in an accessible patch that was easy to scythe all at once and take where ever.  I'm sure we'll end up with multiple clumps of it on our largish site.  Need to cut it multiple times a summer, and I'd rather not have to worry about cutting around something I don't intend to chop.  I see maybe a chance of it spreading into blackberries where it'd be difficult to get to, and then it might flower and start seeding itself around the garden.  If you let it flower and seed unchecked for enough years, it really does seem to start to spread everywhere. 

Around trees is usually good, as you can chop and drop it right where it lives.  Comphrey is a good place to start, but here are other things, like mountain mint or bee balm, that would be better beneficial insect feeders.  Varieties of mulch makers are a good thing. 
 
Chuck Freeman
Posts: 116
Location: Southcentral Alaska
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...at least 1000 yards  from your garden. When we got our first comfrey we put them next to the garden now they are almost like an invasive plant. Which is OK for us since my wife the plants we weed out for medicinal salves & tinctures we also dry some for later use.
 
                                            
Posts: 12
Location: Tacoma, WA - Zone 7b
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Thanks for the info and warnings... the variety of comfrey that I have is the bocking 14 cultivar... from the Horizon Herbs web site:

What's the difference between this plant and true comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)? The Bocking 14 cultivar of Russian Comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum) is a sterile hybrid that will not self-seed and is extremely robust and vigorous.  The true comfrey (Symphytum officinalis) is a bit less vigorous of a grower, has more elongated leaves and (I think) prettier flowers, and does indeed make seed.  Although both types of comfrey (Russian and True) are useful for making medicine and making compost, in an ideal world one would use the bocking cultivar for producing large amounts of biomass for permaculture gardens, composting, and animal feed, and one would use the true comfrey (Symphytum officinalis) for medicinal purposes.  Again, both types (and other species as well) are used interchangeably in agriculture and in medicine. 
 
                    
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a sterile hybrid that will not self-seed and is extremely robust and vigorous


Oh that's interesting, hadn't heard of it being hybridized.  The patches themselves will get gradually larger over time (at which point you an always harvest a few babies from around the edge and give them away or put them elsewhere), but the lack of seeds will make it easier to control, for sure. 

Or does that mean another variety of comfrey planted nearby will make it have viable seeds?
 
Travis Philp
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I worked at a farm that had comfrey along most of one edge of the garden as a barrier against switch grass, which was pretty effective. I'd echo what Chuck said though about its eventual spread being a factor to consider. I figure its better than battling grass though.
 
                    
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I planted a long row along a fence.  Each fruit tree got a companion comfrey plant. then we decided to make the orchard into the chicken run.  The chickens ate it down to the nub. 
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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it may depend on the location, but i have had a comfrey (huge one) in the same area for many years and have never had a seedling come up anywhere from it flowering.

i have intentions to someday divide this plant

readings say to make a tea for your plants and it is esp good in the potato rows
 
David Castillo
Posts: 32
Location: IL/WI Border
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To plant or not to plant?

I was looking at creating a guild around an appletree, crabapple, and some kind of berry bush (IDK what it is). They were established before we moved in. It's close to our house and driveway. I had planned to use comfrey as one of the plants, but I'm concerned about it spreading. I know the bocking 14 is sterile, but I've read that it will still continue to spread/enlarge, even with chopping it down every 5-6 weeks, and at some point will need to be divided. Does anybody have experience with it?

I really don't want it to take over the guild.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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the bocking 14 variety wont spread that much. it will just get bigger. what other plants do you plan on planting other than the trees that are already there? comfrey wont overtake a tree.
 
David Castillo
Posts: 32
Location: IL/WI Border
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I haven't fully decided what I'm going to plant, but my current thoughts are running with chives, garlic chives, daffodils, bee balm, echinacea, comfrey, bush beans (temporarily to be replaced with multiplier onions and egyptian walking onions in the fall) and then white clover for a ground cover. I'll probably add a few small piles of rocks with some kind of thyme as well. Thoughts
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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hmmmm maybe my comfrey is a sterile variety..guess i wasn't aware they existed..however..it is HUGE..and it would overtake anything smaller than a real tree for sure..but it doesn't do more than spread in circumfence..no babies.

i would love to dig and divide it..it being humongous
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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Do scarlet runner beans make sense in your climate? They are perennial here, and my summers aren't hot enough to stop them from producing pods. They might be less of a disturbance than bush beans, and perhaps better-looking.
 
David Castillo
Posts: 32
Location: IL/WI Border
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I was planning to consistently chop it down and divide it regularly. In hopes that it would stay manageable in size. Brenda do you chop yours? Or just leave it grow?
 
David Castillo
Posts: 32
Location: IL/WI Border
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
Do scarlet runner beans make sense in your climate? They are perennial here, and my summers aren't hot enough to stop them from producing pods. They might be less of a disturbance than bush beans, and perhaps better-looking.


They wouldn't be perennial here. I was using the bush beans just b/c I had some left over seeds from last years annual garden.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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well mine has been in place since we had our housefire and i moved it here, so about 8 years now..and i've never done anything to it to try to control or move it..i may  this year..it is a monster..

it actually grows up and blooms once and then again blooms later in the season a second time..it is probably about 8 to 10 feet by fall ..that is across..and it has smothered all the plants that were nearby it....it is a brute...i'll look later for some photographs of it, i know i have some on my other computer.
 
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