I love a cup of tea, so when I heard about comfrey tea, I thought I’d be trying out the latest herbal detox. Not so. Comfrey tea turns out to be the last word in organic liquid plant feeds. And even better, it can be made easily right in my back yard (or allotment in this case).
I’ve never tried making my own liquid feeds, but during the quieter winter months I decided I would try my hand at making some of the famously stinky comfrey liquid feed. Comfrey abounds on my allotment, so it is a great resource to be able to use without forking out a lot of cash. Together with the semi-leaking water butt I had carefully saved (aka hoarded with other junk), I have all the ingredients to make a liquid feed rich in Potassium: the element which plants need when they are producing fruit or flowers.
Ideally harvest comfrey in the earlier part of the year before it puts all its energy into producing flowers, but I’m going to try it this month with what I have. Cut down the comfrey, leaving enough of the plant to keep doing its thing (although the websites out there would suggest it’s nigh on impossible to kill even if you wanted to) and to provide a good source of nectar for insects (my plant was swarming with bees). Then chop the leaves – I used the manual, renewable power of shears, but you could use a strimmer (with biodegradable plastic wire of course) – and place in a container which will hold water, preferably with a tap to make life easier, but you could just use a bucket. Use some chicken wire or mesh to hold the comfrey off the base, and to make it easier to remove after it has infused the water. Cover the leaves with water, put on a lid and sit back for 4-6 weeks to allow the comfrey to work its magic and produce a rich liquid. You can also use the leaves, tipping them out onto the compost, or even as a surface mulch.
There is disagreement on whether the final product is smelly or not, but the anaerobic process going on in the container will bring tears to your eyes with its aroma. You’ll need to dilute the liquid with water until it resembles the colour of tea before use but it will be of benefit to those ‘hungry’ plants such as courgettes, tomatoes and beans (use once they have set their fruit, otherwise you’ll only be feeding their leaves!).
I’ll keep you posted on the outcome (and how smelly the final liquid turns out to be).
For the last word on comfrey, including variations on this method, visit Garden Organic’s website.