Our small and young (40 tree) Heirloom Organic Apple Orchard (9 years old) suffered girdling from voles because the organic landscape covering (used to suppress weeds the past 3 years) served as a vole magnet over the winter! The landscape covering will be removed before autumn. The covering is set in a square formation with the tree in the middle. It stretches out to the drip line. The orchard is a desert with islands of trees amongst a meticulously mowed carpet orchard grass, dandelions and some clover. Our grower / orchardist suggested that once we remove the coverings we plant comfrey because it could serve as a fine mulch and fertilizer encouraging a finer ecosystem. We don't want to spend another dime on certified organic fertilizers if we don't have to. However, my concern is that the comfrey will spread too close to the tree and serve brilliantly as a harbor to host insects right next to the Apple Trees! :-0 The orchard is surrounded by a neighboring hayfield on one side and a wooded area (poplars) on the other side. We would like to bring in more permaculture methods into our orchard, however, if comfrey is loved by the eastern Japanese Beetle, I've just created a bigger problem as Japanese Beetles adore apple trees! If voles use comfrey to hide from our great horned owls in the same way they used the organic landscape coverings, then I'm really in for it. If deer, snowshoe rabbit and other wild animals use comfrey as a major food source, then we're doomed!
I watched the video on comfrey, but am not certain which varietal grows in the Northeast U.S. Thanks so much for your advice... Susie