Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Comfrey and Strawberry Experiment

Following on from a previous seemingly successful experiment with my tomatoes, I have set up a new experiment in my strawberry bed, using comfrey as a nutritious mulch.

The comfrey plants I put in last year are now romping away and looking ready for their first hair cut. Perfect contenders to help me out in improving my strawberry soil and to help give me that bumper fruit crop I'm hankering after.

A quick once over with the slasher and I've cut down a good amount of leaf while still leaving enough on the plant to help it keep its strength up - first cut and all that, don't want to shock it too much.

Then to help them break down into the soil I gave them a good clipping with the shears. The smell through all this cutting was wonderful - the scent of lovely fresh leafy goodness. Specifically, it's the lovely, fresh potassium goodness that I'm after, which is of course the nutrient fruiting crops need lots of and is the nutrient comfrey is particularly good at accumulating in its leaves.

To see how well it works when used as a mulch, I've covered half the strawberry bed with comfrey (right side in photo above) and have left the other half without (left side in photo above). Seems a bit of a shame, I know, not to go for the whole thing and get potentially twice as many big strawberries, but I just have to keep reassuring myself its for the greater good. If it works, this test bed will let me know and then there will be many joyous years ahead in big strawberry heaven.

Just for good measure, I covered the whole lot up with straw so it keeps the moisture in and the weeds out. And now I sit back and wait.

8 comments:

  1. this looks fascinating..can't wait to see how it comes out...love to increase my strawberry crop

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  2. Oh this sounds amazing. I may have to give this a try too...just put in some more strawberries in my little patch, so this post is timely! :)

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  3. Hope it works. I'd just add compost personally. Then again we buy compost by the trailer load.

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  4. I've never heard of the term permaculture before but from what I can gather from your blog, it sounds ideal. I look forward to reading how you progress with your experiments - especially the strawberries.

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  5. Thanks guys for the comments, I hope it works too! Was good on the tomatoes, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Randy - ooh you lucky thing, I'd love to be able to get compost by the trailer load!

    b-a-g - glad you like the look of it! I'm writing a new page for this site at the mo about forest gardening, which will explain a bit more about what I see as being the pinnacle of permaculture gardening, so keep checking back and I promise to get it up soon!

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  6. Are comfrey plants biostimulants? I have read articles where gardeners in France use steeped nettle around their vegetable plants because it is a biostimulant--and increases the strength and yield of the plants. I have often wanted to try it.

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  7. Yeah, it's got really deep roots so pulls up lots of nutrients from deep in the soil. In particular it pulls up potassium, which boosts the growth of fruiting crops so a mulch or compost or 'tea' made out of comfrey is good for to make your fruiting crops grow more strongly. It's also a compost activator, so if you put some of it in the compost heap it'll make your compost rot down more quickly. It's definitely a good plant to have growing in the garden!

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  8. I planted comfrey last year behind my compost heap so am planning the first harvest soon. Can't wait for a summer of free plant feed for my strawberries, courgettes, chillies and tomatoes.

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