We are a small farm attached to our nursery school in West Suffolk.
We started growing Bocking 14 a few years ago and have been amazed at this remarkable herb and its many benefits. Comfrey is known as the wonder plant and it really is one of the most useful plants you can grow in the garden.
Comfrey has a wide range of uses including being a natural healer through to being a marvelous fertilizer.
Comfrey is a hardy perennial, producing a profusion of lilac/pink flowers. It is a member of the borage family and is a favourite amongst organic gardeners, being one of the best sources of plant nutrients. With its long tap roots it draws up nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium deep from the soil, along with iron and calcium. In the winter it dies down and the plant stays dormant until the spring. During this dormant period apply some lime which will keep the soil sweet and a 6 inch layer of manure around each plant. The comfrey will soak up the nutrients in preparation for the spring,
The advantage of Bocking 14 is that it is sterile and doesn’t make viable seeds and therefore is less invasive than other types of comfrey. It is only propagated by root cuttings.
It is a fast growing plant which can be harvested 4 – 5 times a year once established. However, it should not be harvested during its first season as it needs time to become established. Also, remove any flowering stems in the first year as they will weaken the plant.
Bocking 14 was developed during the 1950’s by Lawrence Hills, the founder of the Henry Doubleday Research Association – HDRA – the organic gardening organisation.
Trials conducted by Lawrence Hills have shown that comfrey provides increased yield in potatoes compared with manure, compost or “Growmore” artificial fertiliser. Trials have also shown an increase in yield and quality of French and runner beans when fetilised with comfrey
Comfrey is a hardy plant that will grow easily from small pieces of root, so choose your location with care. You should select a permanent growing position as it has an expected life span of at least 20 years.
Before planting prepare the site by weeding and applying manure.
Avoid chalky soils.
Block plant in full sun or partial shade about 2-3 feet apart with the growing point just below the surface.
Flowering period: May – September. Produces a pretty pink/lilac curl of flowers which bumblebees adore.
Height: 40 inches – spread 30 inches
When harvesting comfrey use shears and cut the plant to about 2 inches above the ground.
Take care when handling comfrey and wear gloves as the stems are covered in fine hairs which can irritate the skin.