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

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.

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.

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.

Eric Hanson wrote:Steve,

If I never mentioned it before, I certainly appreciate having had all your input into getting these plants up and growing.  And your gracious help has turned into some very nice plants.  Thanks!  And thanks for continuing to comment on this old, but still continuing thread.  I do have plans to expand my comfrey plants by digging up root cuttings from my healthiest plant and planting them in a new area.  Further, I have mentioned in other threads that I am planning on doing some serious rejuvenating of my orchard and one of my plans was to plant some comfrey guilds around the trees, in addition to getting them some nice wood chips inoculated with wine cap mushrooms, but that is for a different thread.

Thanks again Steve for your continuing thoughtful observation and commentary,


youre very welcome! keep spreading the root cuttings and the word!
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.

Fredy Perlman wrote:Better to continue on an old thread than start a new one! That way the info is easier to archive and find.

Melody, your post was helpful and welcome, as I have some rotting burlap uglying up the place. But when did you start your bed? I have 5.5 lbs of F&F winecap spawn in the fridge because i thought it could start now, but when the instructions arrived from F&F it didn't say that.

If I can start it now in my region, for potential substrates, I have lots of
--wet cardboard (unsterile)
--1 year old alder chips that have been fruiting Gymnopilus luteofolium for months (can those be pasteurized clean?)
--fine maple sawdust (contaminated with chainsaw oil from alaska mill)
--straw (mixed with unrotted horse manure---this straw is not the demon called "weed free", but Timothy hay from eastern WA, no weed seeds or pesticides I'm told, it's fed to much-loved horses)...i could also buy new clean straw.

Thoughts? I'd love to get these li'l ones started!

better to use fresh straw than the other stuff. the bacteria and other fungi will compete w/ your mushroom spawn. layer the cardboard torn up and soaked in water with the wet straw . break up your spawn into small pieces and mix evenly through out your substrate. make sure it has contact with bare ground . thats important. don't cover the top with solid cardboard as your mycelium, like us, needs to breathe. keep moist but not soaking. good luck!

1 month ago
adding urine and molasses will cause your piles to heat up. it won't break down as fast as in the summer but it will still continue to break down esp. if you continue to add over the winter. also adding veg. and fruit scraps will help the process even more and turn your chips into a nice black compost. i start with coarse hardwood sawdust as sawdust breaks down quicker because its smaller than chips..
1 month ago
probably had the mycelium of other species already established in there before you added the wine caps. do like Dr. Redhawk said. i also add my urine and some diluted molasses to my piles. the sugar and N really gets the bacteria going . turn the pile every few weeks to get some air in there. flatten your piles to about 15in. so there is more surface exposed to the air and soil. keep moist by covering w/ burlap or some shade cloth. good luck!
1 month ago
there isn't any mushroom that would survive in that. if you had a few totes you could put some compost worms in, they would eat some  of your plant scraps but not a lot. if its biodegradable, there isn't a issue throwing it overboard. something else will eat it.
1 month ago

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

steve bossie wrote:my wifes cousin is in charge of the produce dept. at the local shop.n save. gives me all the old produce. its shared w/ chickens, roaches and mealworms. also a nissen bread bakery a few miles over that i get stale bread at $5 a 55 gal. drum full. i use this mostly in the winter months to help them keep warm. if it gets moldy, i compost it. worms love it moldy too.

You are so lucky in Maine: Here, the law is that grocery stores are not allowed to sell or give away any old produce. Employees can be FIRED if they do! Instead, it has to go to the dump and be a waste for everybody!

that bites!
1 month ago