Comfrey – a great liquid fertiliser

Comfrey – a great liquid fertiliser

comfreyComfrey is a forgotten hero of the gardening world. It has a higher fertilizer analysis than most animal manures and compost. It has a tap root that goes metres into the earth and drags up minerals. I grow it at the edge of my bed as it is very good at suppressing weed and as a barrier to couch grass.

No rash or itching from comfrey on me

Most articles I have read state that it causes rashes and itching if it contacts bare flesh. I must be immune as it doesn’t worry me at all. Either that or most articles are copied by people who have never touched comfrey or had the personal experience of growing it.

WheelbarrowComfreyThe easiest way I have found to use comfrey is to shove it into a 200 litre barrel three quarters filled with water and let it sit for a few weeks with an occassional stir. A piece of electrical conduit makes a perfect stirring rod. I pulled up the wheelbarrow load and shoved it into the drum with no covering on my hands or arms. The comfrey grows quickly in the hot and wet summer here and the drum gets a wheelbarrow load every month to six weeks.

jiggle SiphonAfter letting the comfrey break down in the barrel for some time, you have to get it out. I purchased a  jiggle siphon from Supercheap for $11. It was too short so I got a 13mm dripper irrigation barb joiner and added a bit of old hose.

This made the hose long enough so that when the water level dropped, I could lower it further into the barrel and stop it from getting blocked by all the comfrey still breaking down in the barrel.

Comfrey is bullet proof and easy to grow and all you need to do is to dig it up or cut it in half with a spade. Leave half where it is and transplant the other half. It is like sweet potato, once you have it, you have it for life as it is practically impossible to kill.

Siphon comfrey tea from a barrel

Siphoning Comfrey Tea

I have comfrey growing in a number of locations. Where it is irrigated it grows all year round. In the dry season (winter in Brisbane) the comfrey disappears where it is not irrigated. As soon as the rain starts, it magically appears again.

Egg Fruit

Organic Egg PlantYes, I know nearly everyone calls them egg plants. But have a think about it for a minute. I am talking about the fruit that is on the plant. So what would that be? Egg plant fruit? Hence, I call them egg fruit. Have a look at this Lebanese egg plant. Hasn’t it got some fruit on it. I planted it four months ago and have already picked twenty fruit. This is the second flush.

Egg plant and grasshopperAs always when you grow vegetables without using chemicals to suppress the insects it takes a while to work out what grows well in your area and how much insect damage is too much. In the picture to the left you just might see the little diabolical that is causing the holes in the leaves. Look for a grasshopper. He’s sitting on the leaf to the right of the cluster of egg fruit. And while this grasshopper, along with all of his mates is having a bean feast on the egg plant, in turn he is becoming food for a couple of different birds.

Organic Gardens encourage birds and predatory insects

I am pleasantly surprised to have a magpie patrolling the garden and rounding up grasshoppers. What surprised me more was the mynah bird that also targets them.

Egg fruit lady birdThe idea of organic gardening is to create an environment where the plants can grow without the need of chemicals. When it comes to pests, you want to encourage the predators like lady birds, hover flies and lacewings. Letting plants go to seed will encourage them to visit and stay. Notice the two ladybirds in the top right corner of the picture above.

The last time I grew egg plant, I had the best plants you had ever seen, but very few egg fruit. I had 200 plants and I sent about 4 x 10kg boxes to market. This time I reckon I will pick that much off this one plant.

I didn’t think it would grow this well so didn’t bother tying it up or staking it. The weight of the fruit is pulling the branches to the ground. I can only attribute this to the amount of organic matter in my garden beds and the cracker dust I add also the rock dust. It has been quite hot, which helps with egg plants and we have had regular rain. I have a dripper system as well.

Needless to say I am pleased with this. All I have to do now is find the perfect recipe.

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