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Our first harvests

We have been busy harvesting our comfrey beds and I am so in awe of this plant that I have decided to dedicate June's blog to it. Yes, comfrey has been long known to gardeners as the stinky barrel of nutrition filled goodness in the corner of the garden for feeding plants, but it amazes me how few people recognise it when it's growing along roads and in damp places. Bees absolutely love it, my mum has some near her hives that I planted years ago and the honey is delicious.

Personally, if I had to take one plant with me to a desert island, it might be comfrey. Why? Well, apart from happy bees on the island, if I cut myself, I would have a fantastic poultice (I could even mix some of the beeswax in with the herb and make a salve for wounds). I could also use it if I got burns from cooking up the salve over the fire, or if I had an accident and broke a bone. (It's not been called "Knitbone" for nothing!) It could also help my hair shine as a rinse. Most importantly, if I was trying to grow some food on the island, I could use it as a mulch and a liquid plant feed; maybe mix it with some seaweed from the beach and before long the veggie patch would be doing great, although if I had neighbours on the island, they may well be complaining about the smell!

We planted up our new comfrey patch in October last year and it was fantastic to do our first cut of these plants in the following May. We had to be careful to make sure that the bees got their fill so it was done slowly, leaving the last flowers for an extra long time before the final swathe.

This is us waiting for the bees to fill up before the final cut.

Then the bags were taken off by Henry and made ready.

The way we do this in Gaia's Garden, is to allow the plants to grow back and flower again next month, give the bees their flower time and then cut again in July and again in September before the frosts.

Then it's a good time to dig up some of the plants, divide up their roots and create more beds for the following year!

When we were planting the bedraggled little shoots in the cold and rain last year, it was hard to imagine them filled with the buzz of bees in the flowers and everything blooming by springtime

As the roots can go down 6 foot or more in established plants, you need to be aware that once you have comfrey planted, it will remain. The depth it grows down to is why it is so rich in potassium, magnesium and other minerals. Also, unless you choose a non seeding variety, unless you harvest before seeding stage, it will spread.

However, if you use it wisely, comfrey is an invaluable plant to have in your garden and will be a helpful addition to enrich your soil, a feed for plants and a food source for native pollinators....and much more besides.

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