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steve bossie

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since Sep 10, 2015
Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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Recent posts by steve bossie

Ben Waimata wrote:I think some caution is necessary with the comfrey enthusiasm. I planted masses of the recommended strain under citrus and avocado trees for a self-perpetuating living mulch/fert source. Sounded like a good idea at the time.  10 years on it is all gone, just died away. I dug some up to see the amazing root system, it went down about 3 inches with a few wispy roots down a foot or two.  I dug some out with the excavator, shallow roots, and  nothing down deep. This is not a soil issue, even notoriously shallow rooted perennial ryegrass and white clover where rooting much deeper in the same soil. I used it in liquid and found the results less than fantastic, much better growth came from using Albizia tree leaf tea for example. Basically I found the hype totally out of proportion to the reality; yes it is a useful permaculture plant, but nothing like the wonder plant it is claimed to be.

its a cold weather plant. the colder it is the tougher and better it grows. probably heat that weaken it. it is the 1st plant growing out of the snow herein the spring and the last one growing as the snow falls in early winter.  i have heavy rocky clay soil that kills fruit trees if i plant directly in it. comfrey grows right through that and thrives in it. one spot in my yard is under water for 3 weeks in the spring. as the water starts to come down the comfrey there starts to put out leaves. its one tough plant if grown in the right climate.
4 days ago
give them lots of compost and a good layer of mulch. they love it! mine just starting to come out of the snow and already has green buds.
1 month ago
i have all my berry bushes and trees planted in rows in what used to be just grass lawn i cover the whole row with 5-6in. of wood chips every spring. this way i don't have to mow around the bushes and trees. just up and down. the grass in between has gotten so shaded that i mow maybe once every 10 days. i only fertilize with comfrey and the wood chips and everything is very productive. i also inoculated a 5'x5' 12in. thick bed of wood chips with wine cap mushroom mycelium. the next summer i spreaded the inoculated chips around all my plants and trees. 5 yrs. later they are still coming up all over my yard. because of the amount of chips i put down , i never have to water anything. sometimes i compost stuff in the mulch under my bushes. besides arborist chips, i get hardwood rough cut sawdust from a firewood business. they load my trailer for free. saves them from having to haul it to the landfill. i love mulch!
2 months ago
your welcome. you will need to water during those hot dry times. after they are a few years old they usually can fend for themselves as long as you get adequate rain. put 3-4in of wood mulch around them to keep the soil cooler.
3 months ago

Terry Paul Calhoun wrote:

Rez Zircon wrote:

Glenn Herbert wrote:Dutch Elm disease hasn't made the American Elm extinct, only quite rare. A couple of giant specimens still lived around here until a year ago, and I have seen others.

I read of one on the White House lawn that survived; supposedly this tree is over 200 years old. I don't know if the story is true.

We have elms here in Laurel, Montana. Some are quite old; others are seedlings. Nominally-dead stumps will grow sucker trees in abundance (have a bunch of those too). I can't swear to the variety but the oldest are probably over 75 years so certainly from before the plague.

I might have some seeds stashed somewhere from my elms in the SoCal desert, which was beyond the plague's reach.

I'm in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have many, many elms, some beautifully mature, others at 20 years. They are like weeds in areas around wetness. I don't know why we have survived the disease other than that we are the highest point in the county and all the populated areas are downwind

I'm in n. maine and we used to have millions of elms along the rivers and fields here. when the elm disease hit it in the 70's it wiped out 95% of them. boxelder took over from the elm in wet places along the rivers and lakes. only a few single trees remain isolated along the fields. EAB has just been discovered last summer for the 1st time in maine. ash is definitely the most abundant hardwood we have around here esp in wet areas. . its going to rewrite the ecosystem here and not in a good way!
3 months ago

Tara Ba wrote:What is the best way to start growing comfrey?  Buy a plant or seed?

root cuttings work best. this hybrid comfrey has sterile seeds.
3 months ago
watch out Alexis! comfrey planting is highly addicting! once you have a few , then you want to cover the world in comfrey! ;) contact me in mid may and ill dig and send you some root cuttings. you should be able to harvest the leaves year round in your climate. i would plant in 12in. mounds to help in drainage so your cuttings don't rot. some afternoon shade will be needed because above 90f they will wilt and stop growing.
3 months ago
i keep a 3in. layer of chips around  my berry bushes and trees. i ferlilize 2x a summer with pure urine around my plants with no ill effect. i pour maybe a cup or so in a ring around them. the chips absorb and distribute it so there is no burning. other than comfrey , its the only other fertilizer i use. the comfrey loves it too.
4 months ago

Patrick Owen wrote:Since several of you comfroisseurs are still watching this thread, I'm going to bring up a slightly different topic.  Please delete this and/or let me know where to move it if it's too off topic.

Question:  Can living comfrey (root) be deep frozen?  If so, how cold?
I read another website where someone asked about keeping potted comfrey outside.  He was advised that in a pot the roots would freeze and it would die, but if in the ground they wouldn't.

However, it seems like comfreys just below the surface have lived, and they start off from the same root top in the Spring, and I'm in 5a-5b, so it does get below 0 here almost all Winters, with a daily high below 0 most or at least some Winters. I believe here the minimum water line depth is about 4', so a lot of companies install at 5' to be sure of no lines freezing, but maybe that's for a completely different reason.  I kind of want to take one of my little potted comfreys and freeze it and see what happens, but wanted to ask first.

Also, I once read that the comfrey root dies at the actual temperature of around -20F.  Or was it leaves dying at 20F and roots at around -10F or -15F?
Can anyone confirm/deny this?  Have sources or anything?

Any help would be appreciated, and again if this is thread clutter it can be moved.
Thank you!

3  yrs ago we had very little snow and it got down to -40f a half doz. times . i had 0 losses to the roots of the 20+ comfrey on my property with no mulching.  and all of them grew just like the warmer years. I'm sure this stuff could be grown all the way to the arctic and still grow! not sure how they would fare above ground. from what I've read comfrey doesn't do well in pots because of its long taproot.
4 months ago

Patrick Owen wrote:

steve bossie wrote:good to see fresh posts on this thread! i too have planted nettle amongst a patch of comfrey and i now use both for fertilizer around my plants. nettle doesn't produce as much biomass but adds different nutrients than comfrey. i grow a less stinging nettle i bought from Oikios. i also put some cut nettle around the comfrey and comfrey around the nettle. they are both flourishing in a partly sunny spot under my red pines.

Steve:  I hope this doesn't put enmity between us, but my nettles were not exactly "introduced".  It's more like they showed up at a party started by comfrey.  To each his own, and I'm glad the nettle/comfrey is working for you.  That almost makes me wonder if I could try to introduce a smaller, less stingy nettle to replace the other.  Then it would be easier to control?  It's worth pondering.

Eric: I am glad that now, all this time later, your comfreys are doing well (or will be again come Spring!).  This thread can be a lesson for folks wanting to start comfrey but having rain in the extended forecast, and maybe save them some time.  This thread has a lot of stuff most of us have already heard, but also has a lot of different stories where I feel that I really added to my understanding of the properties of this plant, and the pictures posted by all have been helpful also.  That's what prompted me to share my unique situation; maybe others can take my little morsel of experience and add it to their general understandings.

I did have to comment in response to Todd though.  His comedic post was witty, but the fact that it applies to me so much is what made it so great.  I shared it with someone close to me, someone with whom I have frequent conversations, conversations which have been frequently injected with comfrey related topics.

no worries! nettle doesn't grow naturally here but i planted the roots from Oikios because of the medicinal properties and as a amendment. if cut and left to wither you can handle it bare handed with no issues. i also have borage , a cousin of comfery,  in the same patch. before planting here the soil was very poor and acidic. now 4 yrs later its a nice fertile loam and getting better every year.
4 months ago