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)