Comfrey and Nettle Tea

Today I have bottled my first batch of comfrey and nettle tea. Four to five weeks ago I started the process picking comfrey leaves from the Walthamstow marches where comfrey grows in abundance. Wearing gloves to avoid the course bristles irritating my hands I carefully picked the bottom leaves, known to be richer in nutrients. I picked the nettles at home where they were poking through the back of the fence from the overgrowth of the railway line. I literally shoved the nettles into a watering can and filled it with water from the butt then left it and forgot about it at the bottom of the garden. I ripped the comfrey leaves up and put them into a bucket, placed a brick on top then 3/4 filled it with water.


Four weeks later the comfrey tea was making it's presence known quietly ponging in the corner too close to the kitchen window. Time to bottle up! Putting on rubber gloves to avoid the pungent tea getting on my skin I carefully stirred the gloopy mixture. I filled several bottles using a funnel and sieve to strain out the sludgy leaves and the iggily wigglies. I repeated this process with the nettle tea - which was much easier to pour because I had filled a watering can instead of a bucket.

Not sure what to do with the debris I decided to push what was left of the comfrey leaves into a plastic milk bottle. This caused me to think why I didn't just use milk bottles in the first place - maybe there would have been less mess (and stench) and fewer bugs in the tea.

I hope the plants enjoy it. I plan to dilute 1 part tea to 10 parts water. Comfrey tea is good for flower and fruit production and nettle is good for foliage. I'm looking forward to seeing how this feed takes effect on the garden.

I read up on how to make the comfrey and nettle tea in these places:

 Alys Fowler - The Guardian

Adam Pasco - Gardeners World

Monty Don - Daily Mail 

Interesting facts I learnt about Comfrey:

  • Comfrey is rich in potassium (K) and also contains potash (P) and nitrogen (N) and is also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12

  • It has deep roots of 10ft or more which take up the nutrients in the soil and store it in it's large, hairy leaves.

  • Other ways to reap the benefits of comfrey include; ripping the leaves and putting them on the compost heap; using them as a mulch around plants to reduce the evaporation of moisture, suppress weeds and distract slugs and snails from the plant you are protecting by providing them with a meal.

Things to try next time

  • Soaking the leaves in plastic milk bottles rather than buckets without lid
  • Storing the brewing tea at the end of the garden rather - not so close to the kitchen - and in a cooler and darker place - similar to how I did with the nettles
  • Consider using less water to make the tea - therefore making it a stronger brew and less to store
  • Growing my own russian comfrey 'Bocking 14'(Symphytum xuplandicum) that is bred to be sterile, and plant it near the compost heap (as suggested by Alys) 

1 year's still all about the flowers

It's 1 year to the day that I got married to Mr Morris. It was hands down the most funniest, loveliest day ever. 

But one of my most favourite things about the wedding were the flowers... the flowers in the garden, the flowers in my hair, the flowers in the bouquets and on the tables. 

We got married at Nymans a National Trust Garden. The venue needed the most minimal amount of preparation - the beauty in the garden was perfect already and we made most of the guests stand!

I would have loved to have grown even a few flowers for my own wedding but I didn't have enough experience, skill, time or space. At the time it was just one challenge too far. So I turned to a professional. I chose a florist that grows a lot of her own flowers in her cutting garden in Chiddingfold - Caroline at Cherfold Cottage Flowers. I found Caroline on the the Natural Wedding Company website and went to visit her at her home to discuss what it was I was hoping for with the wedding flowers. She was a dream, it was easy and I trusted her immediately. I did a little research and asked for flowers that I knew were in season in June in the UK but let Caroline do the rest and it turned out as well as I could have imagined.


Bouquet by Cherfold Cottage Flowers

So when it came to growing my own I did manage something in time for the honeymoon.  I grew a lovely crop of Sweetpeas. They perfumed the campervan and forever linked the scent of sweetpeas with the beautiful memories of the honeymoon.

Just because I wanted the reception venue to be bursting with flowers we also popped along to New Covent Garden Flower Market in Vauxhall to buy british flowers to hang in bottles on the walls. Our family also brought a long pots of lavender which looked lovely on the tables. 



So of course the day itself had to come to an end, but I wasn't willing to give up on the flowers. We started out on our honeymoon in the Cotswolds visiting both Hidcote and Kiftsgate. But one of the most exciting things was bumping into a florist and flower farmer dropping off flowers to the place we were staying in. Of course I struck up a conversation - commenting on the beautiful seasonal flowers. My passion must have been easily visible as we ended up with an invitation to visit Sara Willman's Flower Patch. Its a small world so of course she new about Caroline and her cutting garden in Surrey.

Hidcote - National Trust

Kiftsgate Court Gardens

Flowers by Sara Willman 


Both women inspired me to try harder in my own garden and ever since I have been trying to grow and day dreaming about flowers I could grow in my own garden. I guess the wedding, the honeymoon and the people we met along the way was the beginning of my journey. I grew a love of flowers, nature, keeping it simple and just going ahead and trying it for yourself.

Its British Flowers Week next week New covent garden flower market are running a weeks worth of events.

You can follow chat on british flowers from those in the know through twitter on #britishflowers

Try growing your own you can get great advise and seeds from people like Sarah Raven and Ben Ranyard at his Higgledy Garden.

And you can follow florists Jay Archer and Thomas Bloom on their blogs and instagram feeds for that daily hit of floral loveliness.

So this is a little  vase full of flowers i have managed to grow in my own little garden. Modest I know but gosh I felt proud putting together a bunch of my homegrown to enjoy. 


 My home grown bunch

My home grown bunch


Wedding photography by Simon at, the rest are taken by Mr and Mrs Morris - just in case it wasn't obvious.


Starting from zero: Turning a dressmaking ambition into reality

We wanted the wedding to provide us with opportunities to learn, discover and have fun. Making the bridesmaid dresses was just one of the ways that I wanted to challenge myself. Here are my tips if you too fancy taking on the dressmaking challenge.

Humbelle - handmade bridesmaid dresses

1. Find a local dressmaking course.

There are plenty of sewing courses around now at you local college, fabric shop, and also online tutorials. I chose to do my learning at Ray Stitch in Islington. I joined a group of beginner dressmakers and in 6 weeks ( 3 hours a week plus a little homework), we made a top, a skirt and a dress. I stayed on for a further 2-3 weeks to do some 'freestyle' sessions where I then practiced under supervision one of the patterns I was intending to use for one of my bridesmaids. 


2. Choose your patterns wisely

Part of creating a great looking dress is making sure you choose a flattering style. If your girls are of different shapes and proportions then make sure you try and complement that. Lots of patterns have different looks, so you might find enough differences in a couple of patterns rather than buying one for each girl - this will also help with construction as you with be repeating and practicing the process. Many of the indie pattern designers also run sew-alongs on their blog pages where they will support you with handy tips and really useful photos. I used By Hand London's Flora Dress pattern and Christine Haynes' Emery Dress pattern. Both had sew-along's


3. Make a muslin 

Pattern makers use sizes consistent with your 'average' woman. You will need to account for all those differences that make us special. This part might take a while but it will be worth it, I promise you. For my 11 year old bridesmaid I took out all of the lumps and bumps. This book called The Perfect Fit helped a lot. It might look a little out dated but the techniques are clear and easy to follow.


4. Which fabric do you use.

Choose a fabric you have become familiar with. I used a cotton lawn because I found it super easy to sew with and it provided a nice light cool fabric for the girls to wear on a summers day. Be aware that if you are using a patterned fabric you may need a larger length in order to make sure it all matches up and the pattern is always going in the right direction. Something I made a little mistake with myself. I used the Liberty Tana Lawn - Alexandra (D).


5. Planning and time

Plan enough time to make the dresses from start to finish. This is not necessarily easy to judge if you have no prior experience but gauging this should be easier following your dressmaking course. If you don't live near to your bridesmaids you will need to factor in visits. They can help by sending you their measurements so that you can get started on the muslins. Do underestimate how long the prep work can take - making the muslin, adjust the muslin and the pattern, washing and ironing fabric, etc... but this should be fun so don't rush yourself and get in a fluster.


6. Create a wedding day sewing kit 

For any last minute tacking in or mishaps. Just gather together tools and supplies you have used most frequently during your dressmaking journey and put them in a tin. I took a tin to my course and just started to buy things that I found useful, this was also the tin that went on the fitting visits to see my bridesmaids.


7. Finally!

Tell everyone about your challenge - it'll stop you from chickening out.


Use your big day as an amazing excuse to turn your ambitions into reality. What's your ambition...milliner, florist, patissier, jewellery maker, brewer, dancer?!