Friday, March 30, 2012

Why Permaculture Folks Love Comfrey


Source: http://www.permies.com
Comfrey may be the most talked about permaculture plant. It is commonly planted under fruit trees because it does not compete with tree roots, but it does compete with plants that do compete with tree roots.

Alexia Allen of Hawthorn Farm tell us how she like using it as a poultice. We get to see bees and ants racing for the nectar of the comfrey blossoms. She also feeds it to her animals.

Toby Hemenway is the author of "Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture." He calls comfrey "the queen of the multi function plants." He talks a little about how easily it can spread when you don't want it. And then he talks about how he is able to get rid of it through mulching - but why would you not want it? It's a beneficial insect attractor; it is able to heal wounds; a dynamic nutrient accumulator; good for under fruit trees; good for a comfrey tree for soils; a huge biomass accumulator.

Tulsey Latoski of Portland, Oregon tells us about how comfrey makes a great green manure and living mulch. Mostly due to the tap roots that will pull nutrients up from down deep. She also shows us two different types of comfrey.

Norris Thomlinson of Portland, Oregon shares some observations about how comfrey fares as chicken feed; edible plant for humans; medicinal plant for humans; 

Michael Pilarski is a famous wildcrafter and permaculture consultant.http://www.friendsofthetrees.net He tells us about how comfrey sluff material off into the soil to make for a richer soil. Apparently earthworms love comfrey! Michael tells us how comfrey is sometimes called "knit-bone" because it proliferates cell division - a great healer. His spring salads are loaded with comfrey leaves and blossoms. Michael talks about Dr. James Duke says that one bottle of beer has the same level of dangerous alkaloids as 100 cups of comfrey tea.

Matt from Feral Farm shows an understory heavy with comfrey.

Brian Kerkvliet of Inspiration Farm in Bellingham, Washington, talks about the challenges of getting comfrey out of an area where you don't want it. He uses a hot compost pile on top of it. He also shares the idea that if you have comfrey, that's a great place to plant a fruit tree! Then he shows a permaculture guild that includes comfrey.

Samantha Lewis describes how to tell the difference between comfrey, foxglove, mullein and borage.

Toby Hemenway wraps up with who is the king of the permaculture multifunctional plants (spoiler: bamboo!)

Relevant threads at permies:
http://www.permies.com/t/10864/organic-sustainable-practices/comfrey
http://www.permies.com/t/1174/permaculture/value-comfrey
http://www.permies.com/t/6888/permaculture/Comfrey-cultivars-life-expectancy
http://www.permies.com/t/11140/permaculture/Corn-Comfrey-Large-scale-polyculture

music by Jimmy Pardo
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