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Old September 10, 2015   #16
MendozaMark's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Yarmouth,NS Canada
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Originally Posted by bower View Post
No shooting intended.
I do have a science degree, which is why I'm critical... not of you, of 'debunkers' who don't actually pony up any data to support their claims, or misapply scientific concepts/methods to confuse less educated folks. To be fair, I couldn't access the blog because I'm not on facebook and I couldn't find the discussion of comfrey by google. And since Rodale didn't name the researcher I couldn't find the research either. I remain in the dark.

As regards the NPK figures, this type of data on natural materials is never taken as an absolute - they are ballpark figures based upon the available data. This is what we need to estimate how much cottonseed meal or kelp or comfrey to apply as a fert.
From a scientific standpoint "controls" of different plants aren't relevant to this type of data, but the number of data points is important, the more points the better. That means many samples should be tested that grew in different environments, from which an average is taken. It is okay to gripe about someone having only one data point, if that's the case. It isn't sufficient though, to support the claim that comfrey has the same NPK as nettles or hay or some other plant, which according to the available data, are all different.
Great information and points. I'll give it some more thought and probably have more questions for you. After the football game of course


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Old September 11, 2015   #17
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Chicago IL
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I belong to a different group of gardeners who believe that soil already has all NPK plant needs and as long as soil has biology able to mine it out and deliver to plants all is kosher. So all this NPK talk goes out of the window with my way of thinking. And that is where compost teas and compost extracts to be precise come in as well as kelp/ comfrey teas.
Thing is with my foliar application of 1 tsp of kelp per 1000 sq ft I am not providing NPK, but like with well prepared dishes I am adding that pinch of salt that changes bland dish to delight.
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Old September 12, 2015   #18
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: UK
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Originally Posted by bower View Post
Darren, it sounds like you got a great yield for small containers and terrible weather. And no ferts but the comfrey - it's great. You're obviously doing something right - I think regular feeding for plants in containers is the way to go, and maybe weekly is better than every two. I have a tendency to forget when I fed last, until I notice they stopped growing.
I couldn't see the picture. 1 lb 13 oz is huge!
There wasn't a picture.... I inserted a smilie thing on my iPad, rookie mistake

I found weekly feeding easy to remember, being in containers in a greenhouse meant I had to water them everyday anyway

Hopefully next year the weather will be more cooperative, I had 2 ARGG plants that have given me 4 ripe tomatoes, they have another 30 up ripe ones but I think it's just been too cool this year. The Cherry/Sungold plants are still going strong though
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Old September 12, 2015   #19
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Location: Ontario
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Several years ago, I bought a comfrey plant at my local Horticultural Society's plant sale. The person who provided it said that it's a compost accelerator so I planted mine beside my two composters and I throw in some large leaves every now and again, especially when the plant gets over-grown, and when I cut it down in the fall. The pretty blue flowers are attractive to bees.

Although I've been tempted to make comfrey tea, having water sitting around to encourage the mosquitoes never sounded very appealing, but maybe I'll give it a try next year.


Last edited by Labradors2; September 12, 2015 at 10:18 AM.
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Old September 12, 2015   #20
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Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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It was so cold here this year, July was colder than a normal September and broke the record. My plants really suffered with potassium deficiency - as I learned, they can't take up K in cold soils, and the fruit quality really suffered for nearly all the large ones. Grey wall, uneven ripening, etc.

I probably could have remediated the situation by warm watering with some nice teas, comfrey looks good to me as a source of warm liquid bits of potassium, instead of making it worse by pouring icy cold well water on them. I will do it next time we have a cold one, this time I didn't know there was/would be such a problem until the larger ones started to ripen.

All the teas I've tried for plants have been great. I like to make Spirea tea for the salycilates - Just throw it in a big kettle, boil up, steep, and serve with water. This stuff doesn't smell bad and it kept in a bottle for ages - months for sure with no bad smell or sign of rot. The plants really loved it. I wonder if comfrey could be prepared the same way..
Actually my mom has a few big patches of comfrey out in her field. I've seen them after the frost gets them and in the spring, all brown and crispy and covering a fair patch - if we get some dry weather I'll look for that in the fall, maybe try storing it as a powder and use like my decomposed kelp stuff.
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Old September 13, 2015   #21
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: England
Posts: 512

I looked through the "debunking" of comfrey in the facebook posts and it all seems to entirely miss the point of growing this plant which is that its very deep roots will draw minerals from deep within the soil where they would be unavailable to most other plants. This obviously allows the recycling of nutrients that would otherwise be lost for good.

Add to this that it is a very good source of trace minerals, is easy to break down in the compost heap or as a liquid or if applied directly to the soil as a mulch, and you have a very useful resource that is essentially free apart from the space needed to grow it.

(I should add that I don't currently use comfrey, as I don't garden on a large enough scale to make it worthwhile to devote some of my growing space to it.)
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Old September 13, 2015   #22
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: London UK
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Last year on a scottish gardening programme called beechgrove they did an experiment, half if the tomato plants were fed with comfrey tea, half were fed with tomorite (most popular uk chemical tomato liquid feed)

They were surprised to find the comfrey tea fed plants out performed the tomorite plants

edit, this is the factsheet from the programme with the results

Last edited by maverick451; September 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM.
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