In the herb garden in late June

Credit: Carolyn Herriot


Comfrey (above) is one of the easiest plants to grow. The leaves contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are readily released to plants when comfrey leaves break down.
I love the sight of this variegated strain of comfrey in the garden, with its showy purple-blue flowers. Bees and chickens also love it.

Symphytum x uplandicum, Russian comfrey, is the best for producing garden fertilizer. The ‘Bocking 14’ cultivar has been shown to be most productive, because you can cut it down three to four times a year. Another good reason to grow it over other strains is that it produces little viable seed. I have planted a patch of Russian comfrey behind my 3-bin compost system, and harvest it three times a year. For this reason it never spreads, because all the energy goes back into regrowth. Comfrey leaves are nutrient rich, containing 75% water, 74% nitrogen, 24% phosphorus and 1.19% potassium.

Ready-to-Use Comfrey Tea
Pack 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of comfrey leaves into a container with a lid.
Add 15 litres (3.3 gallons) of water.

Cover to keep the smell in and the flies out!
Leave to brew for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain.
Use undiluted.

TIP: Top up with leaves during the season or make new batches after each cut. Put the residue that collects in the bottom of the container into the compost heap. Hold your nose!

Comfrey Concentrate
Drill a 1/4 inch hole in the bottom of a 20 litre (5 gallon) container with a lid.
Place a piece of wire mesh over the hole to prevent blockage.

Stand the container on bricks, so that a collection bottle will fit under the hole.
Pack in enough comfrey leaves to fill the container. (Do not add water.)

The leaves will decompose into a black liquid, which can be stored in a stoppered bottle. If kept in a cool, dark place, it will store for up to a year. Always dilute the concentrate before use. If it is black and strong, dilute it 20:1 (20 parts water to one part concentrate), if it is brown and thin, dilute 10:1.

• A general feed for outdoor planters. Feed once weekly.
• A good compost heap activator. Water onto the pile.
• A feed for fruit bushes. Water in before fruiting.

TIP: Do not use regularly on acid-loving plants.

sweet cicely
The seeds of Sweet cicely are very ornamental as they mature from bright green to black.
Beneficial insects are attracted to the garden to feed on the dainty white flowers. Sweet cicely has no problem self-seeding in the garden, but the trick to getting the seeds to germinate under controlled conditions is to sow fresh seed in fall and over winter it to produce seedlings the following spring.

Back to the Victory Garden Program.