Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Great Comfrey Rescue

Over twenty years ago when I first started homesteading, one of my first purchases was a dozen comfrey plants. I planted them in three rows of four next to what would, in the future, be my goat barnyard. The plants did well, helped along with generous helpings of goat manure.

Comfrey plants aren't always relished by livestock at first. I've found you can encourage comfrey consumption by putting grain on top of some comfrey leaves. Once the animals get a taste of it, throwing a bunch of comfrey to your sheep and goats is like throwing a cow to hungry piranha.

My comfrey plantation did well and I had started planting some comfrey roots in a pasture section, when the comfrey plantation was wiped out by a small flock of Pilgrim geese. The plants out in the pasture did poorly due to grass competition, so later I transplanted what I could find into old tires. They were still doing poorly.

Then the other day while surfing the web, I came upon an article about things to feed one's chickens. The author says this:
"Comfrey is amazingly productive, especially if fertilized heavily (and it will take any form of fertility you throw at it, including raw chicken manure). Protein content is high (higher than alfalfa, and can if well grown be as high as soybean, dry weight basis). I cut and feed as needed, more at times in the season when the pasture is less generous. Chickens eat comfrey well. Geese love it." Read the rest of the article at the link above.
So I decided today was a good day to do a comfrey rescue--- kind of like a dog rescue but with less barking. The new comfrey plot had been kindly tilled up by my assorted poultry when their pen was in that location, and all I needed to do was use the Magic Hoe to loosen up the soil and start transplanting.

Wonder Hoe? It looks like this:

Wonder Hoe--- my second favorite tool, after the crucifix in my vampire-hunting kit.

Wonder Hoe is ready for her close-up
 So far I've transplanted two large comfrey plants, dividing it into eight smaller plants, and also planted a few tiny plants that fell off the bigger ones into a nursery row for later transplanting. The plants looked a bit pathetic due to dry conditions, but I expect them to perk right up in their new, properly cultivated bed.

Once the plants have gotten used to their new home, they will be getting little gifts from the Manure Fairy. Note: the kitty in the picture will NOT be invited to drop off any of her manure in the comfrey bed. Or I will throw Wonder Hoe in her general direction!

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