Modern science had progressed a lot in the past decade. We have many kinds of artificially made fertilizers and additives. But, if something is easily made, it doesn’t mean that it is always the best thing to use. For the past few years, more and more gardeners are turning toward organic and more natural approach, especially when it comes to fertilizers.
Because of that, let me show you how to make comfrey fertilizer tea so that you can get rid of those nasty chemicals. Of course, there are commercial fertilizers which are great, but I’m keen on sticking to a natural approach.
What Is Comfrey In The First Place?
One of “newer” plants, comfrey has been growing as a wild plant for a long time. But, during 1950’s scientists have isolated and started growing so-called Russian Comfrey, which is used today. In any case, here are some facts about these plants.
As it is shown, comfrey is one versatile and resilient plant. Its features are the best recommendation for growing them in your garden.
What Will Be Needed For Making Comfrey Fertilizer Tea?
If you have read my other articles about making fertilizers at home, you know approximately what will be required. But, there is no harm in listing needed tools and equipment one more time.
So, large bucket (5-gallon one is more than enough) is essential for making this fertilizer. Also, an old pantyhose might be handy, so find one, just in case. As for the rest of the equipment, there are several recipes which can be used, so find a large stone, because we have some pressing to do. A straining cloth will be helpful as well, thus obtaining one might be a right course of action.
One more thing, since comfrey has hairy leaves and stems, be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves when making fertilizer tea. Its sting is no big deal, but it can cause an allergic reaction.
Why Should I Use This Fertilizer At All?
Although comfrey is a nutrient-hungry plant and will require a high amount of nitrogen to grow correctly, it is a rewarding plant. Consider that grass clippings can be used as the source of nitrogen for the plant which in return gives you a good base for fertilizer with a lot of calcium, and three essential elements (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Among the three, potassium is held in the most percentage.
Perhaps the most important reason for using this fertilizer is because it will keep powdery mildew far from your plants. There are not many ways to treat this disease, so you should seriously consider this fertilizer.
Also, since it grows fast, it is rentable to have it. As I mentioned, it can be harvested once in every five weeks, which is about five or even six harvests per season. A constant supply of fertilizer is essential, and you can have it, without the need to splash the cash.
Moreover, used leaves can be further used for mulching and as side spreading. Since the leaves will hold less nutrients after making fertilizer tea, they will be much milder, so burning the plants is out of the question. Ultimately, if you don’t like the idea of mulching, just throw leaves into the compost tumbler, and you can make one great mixture.
When And How I Should Harvest Comfrey?
Regarding fertilization, not all parts of the plant are used. To make good fertilizer, you will need leaves. Since this plant grows fast, you can harvest it anytime you like. Of course, pay attention that the leaves are fully developed and that they can be collected. If you want to have a constant supply of leaves throughout the year, make five lines of comfrey, and harvest one each week.
Concerning the tools needed, you can use shears, scythe or sickle. Cutting the whole stem a few inches above the ground is the proper way to do so, and don’t worry, it will grow back. In general, stems along with leaves can be used to make fertilizer, but I recommend a more refined approach. Wear gloves, and separate the leaves from stems. This way you will improve the quality of the fertilizer.
How Should I Make Fertilizer Tea From Comfrey?
This is the point where there are three ways to make fertilizer tea. Depending on how much you are in a hurry, and how strong you want it to be, you can decide which one to make.
First Approach – Free Mixture
This is the easiest and the fastest way to make fertilizer tea. You will need comfrey leaves, bucket, water and straining cloth.
First, fill the bucket to ½ - ¾ with comfrey leaves. Pour water to fill the bucket, and cover it. The smell which will appear while brewing process lasts will be quite unpleasant, so prepare accordingly. Because of that smell, it is essential to cover the bucket; it will undoubtedly attract flies. Brewing should last about two weeks to 20 days. Stir the mixture from time to time, and to accelerate the brewing process.
After said time, the mixture will be quite cohesive, so straining is in order. Stretch the cloth over the other bucket, and strain the mixture. The residue can be further used to mulch the garden or to infuse organic matter into the ground. Tea which is made this way is medium-strong, so it should be diluted with water in 50:50 ratio.
The Second Approach – Contained Mixture
The second method is very similar to the first one, but the results are different. Start with filling an old pantyhose with comfrey leaves and drop it into the bucket with water. Attach the free end of pantyhose to the edge of the bucket so that it won’t fall in.
Since the leaves are tightly pressed, it won’t be necessary to strain the mixture after it is done. But, you will have to drag the pantyhose once in a while through the water. This way, I got very mild manure tea which can be used undiluted. Moreover, the residue which remains after making this mixture will be stronger, so it can be considered for the substantial shortage of nutrients in the soil.
The Third Approach – Pressed Mixture
The most common way of making comfrey fertilizer tea is to put two handfuls of leaves to the bottom of the bucket and push them with a stone or a brick. Now, add water just to cover the leaves, not more. In time, thick and dark matter will collect at the bottom.
This is the fertilizer. I have improved the results further by installing a tap on the lower part of the bucket. I have also kept adding leaves on top of the older ones, so I had a constant supply of manure tea.
Since this essence is powerful, it should be diluted with water in 15:1 ratio. Of course, the lid is much necessary, because of the nasty smell I have already mentioned. In this way, there is no remaining residue, so you can’t use it for mulching or adding organics to the soil.
How Should I Distribute It?
Since all of the three ways have the result in liquid form, you will need a sprayer to spread it. In case that large area needs to be covered, choose either backpack sprayer or handheld one, it is up to your preference. Ultimately, if you want to fertilize large area such as lawn, you can attach the container to the sprinkler system and distribute it via oscillating sprinkler.
On the other hand, if you need to fertilize container plants, use a small sprayer, the one which is usually used for this purpose. If you don’t have it, just poke a few holes on the cover, and you are good to go!
How Often Can I Use This Manure Tea?
Depending on the variety you have chosen, there are several time schedules which you can utilize. For the stronger variety, apply it once in two weeks, or even once per month. Weaker mixtures can be used a bit more often, so once in a week can be appropriate. Of course, this is merely an estimation, keep an eye out and if you notice that you are over fertilizing, cut it out a bit.
So, the question is answered. How to make comfrey fertilizer tea in several ways, and each one will be suitable for the specific situation. Just be careful, plan, and your plants will grow faster than you say “raspberries”.
As always, I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave your thoughts, opinions, and advice in the comment section below.