Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Weed is Not a Weed... When...

~ comfrey ~
 I enjoy a good discussion on the topic of 'What is a weed & how do I get rid of it'. Sometimes it is a matter of plant appearance or placement or misunderstanding.

I try to find ways to make certain weeds work for me & sometimes I will actually go out of my way to find them & bring them onto my property! Today's weed is: comfrey.

~ huge root ~
This is a pretty resilient plant - if you don't want it where it is growing, good luck removing it! The roots are huge & go deep into the ground. You get new plants by either cutting pieces of the root & planting them (what I did to get my initial first 4 plants) or you can divide the plants; which is what I did this year.

The piece I'm holding on the left shows how large that root has become & I was not gentle when digging this one out.

~ another large root ~
I use the leaves of the plant as mulch, either by cutting down leaves & laying them around other plants, or mowing over the whole plant with the lawnmower with the bag attached. I can probably do that about 3 times a year & the plant keeps coming back!

I've also made a compost tea from the leaves - cut several large handfuls of leaves & stalks, throw them into a 5 gallon bucket, fill with water, put a cover over it & then leave it for 7 to 10 days. The smell is awful, so watch you don't splash it on you. I dilute the liquid fertilizer & water in around my plants.

Another benefit to comfrey are the abundant flowers - the bees love them & apparently, so do ducks! I would feed our ducks last year some chopped up comfrey in their water dishes & when the plant was in flower, I'd share that with them too. I'm amazed that they didn't discover where the plants were growing & tromp all over them (I have to regrow all my thyme plants this year because of this bizarre behaviour of sitting on top of herb plants).

I initially started off with 4 plants & after my division this spring, I now have 12 with potentially 3 or 4 more from just small root cuttings... Potentially creating a monster by having so many, but I'm learning it is sometimes easier to 'grow your own soil' than bring it in...

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