Fruit/nut growers: Do you want to know more about comfrey?

Hi all,

If you are interested in comfrey as a companion plant, please join in on this conversation!

A group of us have planted comfrey and are recording our observations to see what benefits it may have for growing fruit and nut trees/vines/shrubs. There are already a handful of studies demonstrating benefits in other climates (which are referenced in our research proposal) so the goal is mainly to see what benefits can be observed on farms in different parts of Ontario.

We want to know if you have tried planting comfrey as a companion plant? If so, what was your set up and what benefits did you observe in your fruit/nut trees?

We are expecting some of the benefits to be longer term, so for those who have had comfrey a long time, how long did it take to notice a difference? One hypothesis is that the difference might be measurable after three years through a foliar test (leaf tissue) showing higher levels of potassium uptake in fruiting plants next to comfrey.

If you’d like to join in and plant some comfrey, or add in your existing comfrey observations, please let us know here.

This is part of the EFAO farmer-led research program, which provides an honorarium, and covers eligible costs including for the farmer-research symposium.
https://efao.ca/farmer-led-research/

Thanks
Arthur

Hi Arthur - I would be interested in learning more - I could only make one session last week (Greg Judy) - but we are in the final planning stages for putting a small orchard in on our farm (primarily apples, but a mix of trees and berry shrubs) in Northern Ontario - I have long had interest in incorporating comfrey on the farm, and until now didn’t realize it’s application/benefits within an orchard. Any further info would be appreciated - farm@kiplingridge.ca Thanks! James

Hi Arthur,

Thanks for getting the convo started on the Forum! This is one method of communication and networking that we will be promoting for farmer-led research this year, so it is great to see the head start! (I am seeing if Denis can move the FLR threads to their own category, with subcategories for different research priorities).

Great to see you last week!
Sarah

Hi James,

You can check out results from Pat Kozowyk’s 2017 season in the Research Library, and I will email you a copy of Pat, Arthur and Ivan’s Research Poster from 2018 (it will be posted as a report in January). Let us know what questions you have after looking those over.


Cheers,
Sarah

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I am interested because I would like to have comfrey available to our goats as a feed supplement. I have been told it helps with the goats immune function.
Could comfrey be established in an existing pasture?

Hello,
We are in northern Mono. We have had comfrey on our land since 1996 when we bought the place. In past years we have occasionally planted potatoes among the comfrey and they have been the most delicious we have ever had. We did not know about comfrey when we moved in and tilled it in only to discover that it spread all over the tilled field. No problem we planted a nut orchard there a few years ago and leave it to grow as it pleases. However I’ve observed that it does need cutting/mowing after it blooms otherwise it gets totally invaded by powdery mildew… The wild turkeys have also occasionally nested under its thick foliage.

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Hi,

We have comfrey and have planted and used it for decades to make salves and poultice for topical applications.

In the past 3-4 yrs since taking my interest in permaculture/no till/regenerative methods into practice I have been propagating and spreading my comfrey quite broadly.

I have 1 plant under at least 6 fruit trees and I have been experimenting with using it as a weed suppression border crop. It’s well known as a good nutrient accumulator so it helps to fertilize and build soil I would think.

What I have done is taken root cuttings of my (Bocking 14? was planted over 30 yrs ago by former land stewards, seems to have no viable seed) and planted them quite closely on the border of my garden and also around a mixed current and Elderberry Grove.

They outcompete all the grasses and weeds by suppression after the first season. Once established, I usually come along and just trample the plants smashing all the leafy growth. 2 - 4 times per season into the ground (in a direction out from the protected beds. this helps with the suppression/encroachment of grass and weeds into the gardens and of course makes mulch. They grow back very readily and still flower, bees and pollinators enjoy them.

I will be increasing how much I do this, after 3 yrs of trials it seems to be working. At this point I am confident that there is no risk of any invasiveness unless the roots are cut up and distributed.

I have not tried intentional use for fodder or making compost teas. There is some evidence of nibbling by the free ranging poultry types but no extensive feeding off of it.

Hello, would be interested to participate as we have fruit and nut trees. Was unaware of their properties but have enjoyed the plant for how it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. What next?