Community Supported Agriculture

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Feeding the plants

Something exciting happened today. A few special plants came up, ones that I had forgotten I planted, and haven't really tended. It's comfrey. I've read about it as a plant with many uses, but last summer we learned about its amazing capabilities at helping other plants grow. Comfrey grows a long tap root deep into the soil, and pulls up all kinds of trace minerals from the depths that other plants' roots don't reach. It puts those minerals into its abundant leaves, and here's the awesome part: you can harvest the leaves, mix them in water, stir them often for a month or some, and the leaves will disintegrate into the water, leaving you a potion of trace minerals that you can give to your other crops. People buy expensive things like fish emulsion, or kelp, since they both can add a lot of nutrients to your plants and keep the garden happy. But comfrey will grow quickly after you chop the leaves off, and it spreads itself by root. I don't think we'll get a cutting this year for our farm, but I will plant more comfrey plants down by the bay, where their roots will soak up washed-away nutrients we applied. (lots of fertilizer we use can get washed away in a good rain). It gives us a second chance to use those nutrients we initially applied, plus the comfrey will pull up all kinds of good stuff from deep in the ground. In 5 years, we won't be able to use the land by the bay for crops anyway, since there will be a buffer zone in place as part of the maine farmland trust regulation. Hopefully by then, there will be a nice border of comfrey in place. I encourage any gardeners out there to get comfrey root cuttings, and plant them in an out of the way part of your garden. They're quite nice to look at as a bush, and their leaves make a wondrous potion for folier sprays.

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