Comfrey: The Dynamic Accumulator Part 1

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Comfrey The Dynamic Accumulator

 Most everything we need to fertilize your garden plants and improve our soil is right under your feet. The only problem is finding a method to mine if from the deeper parts of your soil and bring it up in a form that is biologically available to worms and other soil-workers, fungi and other water-way-creators and our garden vegetable and pollinator-attracting plants. There exists a fountain of greenery that mines the deep and flows the locked-up minerals from areas in the soil that our garden plants can not access. This fountain brings that wealth of nutrients up to the surface where we homesteaders can access it. Comfrey: let’s talk about it.

Comfrey: The Dynamic Accumulator

What is comfrey? I’ll get technical a bit later in this article. For now, let’s consider Comfrey as either a herb, a plant or (sometimes called) a weed but is always known as a dynamic accumulator. Comfrey has the amazing ability to gather certain micronutrients, macronutrients, and minerals and store them in the leaves.

The truth of the matter is that we are not gardeners of vegetables, fruits and flowers. We are gardeners of the soil. Nothing will happen in the garden until something happens to the soil. And, though this is not a composting or fertilizing article, it does talk about the one plant that will change the way you think about composting and fertilizing. With most of us living on limited ground, finding a plant that serves as a nice supplement to whatever amount of animal “stuff” we are able to produce or procure is a dream-come-true.

NPK – The Nitty-Gritty

NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) are all VERY essential to healthy plant production; they are not the only nutrients a plant needs to be healthy. If you take a bottle of vitamins and look at the label, you’d find dozens of nutrients that our body needs to thrive. Traditionally we received these nutrients though our food. However, with the modern farm focusing on growing for production rather than growing for nutrition, we find ourselves in a world where we are overfed, malnourished vitamin-junkies (who have all of a sudden developed an intolerance to wheat and milk).

Comfrey comfrey Comfrey: The Dynamic Accumulator Part 1 NPK

The BIG Three:  Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K)

The LITTLE Three:  Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S)

The Micro Seven:  Boron (B), Chlorine (CI), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), and Zinc (Zn)

What each of these elements do for the health of the plant and for our health will be discussed in a different article. The truth is: these nutrients are all essential and comfrey can “dig” them up from deep below the surface and provide many or maybe all of these nutrients (depending on the amounts found in your soil and subsoil). A plant may look healthy when artificially fed NPK, but is it healthy? Will it give us the nutrients we need for our own health? Isn’t that one of the big reasons we grow our garden? Afterall, if taste was our only motivator (and garden-fresh is palate-pleasing), we’d resolve to only eat pizza, burgers and chips full of prophylene glycol and silicon. By the way prophylene glycol is used in the production of polymers and silicone is used in the production of computers and Takis ®. You can get all the silicone you want at your local ocean-front beach or bagged at your local home supply hardware store (for your child’s sand box).

What Nutrients does Comfrey Offer? Most look for the Big Three first and consider the Little Three and the Micro Seven as secondary (though important nonetheless). Let’s look at how comfrey stacks up just in the reference to the Big Three.

The BIG Three:  Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K)

To understand the amazing ability of comfrey, we need to pause and briefly talk about the big three nutrients that most every gardener is looking for. Here is a chart of nutrients when comparing comfrey to manure.

Compost Additive = Manure Comfrey
Nitrogen % [N] = 0.64 0.74
Phosphorous % [P] = 0.23 0.24
Potassium % [K] = 0.32 1.19
Carbon : Nitrogen Ratio = 14:1 9.8:1

 

Comfrey comfrey Comfrey: The Dynamic Accumulator Part 1 download

Self sufficiency and healthy food is the ultimate goal. Securing seeds, establishing a water plan and having sufficient amount of land with sun coverage is only 75% of what we’ll need for our goal. In order to complete the circle we need nutrients and to find a way to use the nutrients on our homesteads or nearest to our homesteads as possible. We have to fertilize. How you fertilize is what it’s all about.

Coming Soon: Part 2: The Different Types of Comfrey will be published on February 18, 2017. Sign up for the Back to the Homestead Newsletter to stay updated.

If you want the technical info on Comfrey, read below. If not, we’ll see you next time on Back to the Homestead.

Comfrey (also comphrey) is a common name for plants in the genus Symphytum. (Thanks Wiki!). What does that mean and how does it help…it doesn’t…but, someone will ask.

There’s a hierarchy of classes, biologically speaking, that is divided into eight major taxonomic (that’s a fun word) ranks. Taxonomic is the technique of classification of all life. There are 8 ranks. Comfrey is the species falling into the genus of Symphytum falling into the family of Boraginaceae falling into the order of Boraginales falling into the class of Magnoliopsida falling into the phylum of Vascular Plant falling into the Kingdom of Plant falling into the domain of Eukaryote falling into the top taxonomic rank of LIFE!
Okay. That’s about as technical this homesteader cares to get. Keep on growing and check out part 2: Comfrey: The Dynamic Accumulator Part 2

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