Gardening with Laurie: Discover comfrey, its medicinal properties
By Laurie Garretson
April 17, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 16, 2014 at 11:17 p.m.
One of the joys of my life is working in my garden. All the delicious scents from the different herbs, all the beautiful bloomers and all the beneficial insects that these plants attract make a wonderful combination. I have specifically picked each plant that resides there for the more than 20-plus years it has served me. I should say since I've served it, to be more accurate.
I feed and water it and try to keep as many of the weeds out of it as time allows me. This season, I haven't had much time for any work in my garden. Although, I do take time every few evenings to stop and smell the blooms on my beautiful Belinda's Dream roses.
I enjoy all the plantings in my garden, but there is one plant that has served me and many others very well for many, many years. It has died back many winters over time and has always returned as strong and beautiful as ever. But this winter seems to have literally taken the life out of it. I keep close watch on its area of the garden's soil with no sign of its return.
I can't remember why I planted this comfrey plant in the first place. Just being an herb that I hadn't seen before made me curious to see how it would grow for me. At that time, I had no idea how helpful it would be to me for so many years to come.
As it grew and I became more aware of its many uses, I wondered why I hadn't heard of it long before and why everyone wasn't growing some comfrey. As a child, I remember most people having at least one aloe plant around but never a comfrey plant, which has many more uses than the aloe plant.
I have found comfrey to be very easy to grow in the ground in a well-draining area with morning sun and late afternoon shade. I have never had any problems with any diseases or insects over the many years, although there was a summer long ago when a family of wild rabbits discovered it and chewed it to the ground.
Comfrey is a perennial member of the borage family. Like borage, comfrey has hairy leaves and pretty blue flowers. Comfrey roots can easily extend 8 to 10 feet down in the soil, which allows the plant to bring up nutrients from the subsoil.
I have used comfrey on all kinds of external wounds, bruises, rashes and insect stings. It is never advised to take comfrey internally.
The leaves of comfrey plants are very high in potash and protein and make great additions to compost piles. As of now, it looks like I will be planting another comfrey plant in my garden. I have come to depend on this plant and do not want to be without it. Everyone should grow comfrey.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.