Image shows a comfrey plant used to make liquid feed.

Making Comfrey Or Nettle Liquid Feeds

 

Liquid feeds or fertilizers are a great way to nourish your plants, providing nutrients in a readily available form, so they’re quickly absorbed.  Many plants benefit from liquid feeds to give them a boost during their growing period, particularly crops such as: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkins and beans.

 

Instructions for Making Comfrey Liquid Feed (Ready to Use Undiluted)

 

  1. Wear gloves, cut comfrey down with shears or pruning clippers to about 2 inches (5 cm) above soil level. Start cutting from April, and ideally before plants flower.
  2. Collect leaves, chopping into small pieces if easier to handle. Let plants reach 24 inches (60 cm) tall before cutting again. This takes about six weeks.  Cut up to four times a year until September.
  3. Weigh about 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of leaves using scales.
  4. Add leaves to 4 gallons (15 liters) of water. Leave for about six weeks. Anaerobic bacteria will break down the comfrey leaves giving off a strong and unpleasant smell, so it’s best to use container with a cover or lid to contain the smell.
  5. Strain. Use liquid undiluted. This liquid will smell strongly.  Add residue of comfrey leaves to a compost heap. Don’t try to store this liquid as it will ferment and may explode (concentrated feed can be stored – see below).
  6. Use the comfrey solution as a potassium-rich liquid fertilizer to encourage flowers and fruit set. Use once a week for tomatoes after their first flowers set fruit.

 

Instructions for Making Comfrey Concentrated Feed

 

  1. Cut off comfrey leaves as steps one and two, described above.
  2. Push leaves into a wide soil/drain pipe that has a cap at the bottom end. Note: the cap should have a hole drilled through for liquid to drain. Cover the hole on the inside with fine mesh or wire to prevent blockages.
  3. Weigh down leaves with plastic bottle filled with stones or water, attached to a piece of string.
  4. Collect the black liquid that begins to drain out after a few weeks. This liquid will not have a strong smell until diluted.
  5. Dilute with water before use 1:10 (one part comfrey to 10 parts water) if brown; 1:20 (one part comfrey to 20 parts water) if black. Aim for the color of weak tea. This liquid will smell more when water is added.

 

Instructions for Making Nettle Liquid Feed

 

  1. Wearing gloves, cut nettles down with shears or pruning clippers to about 2 inches (5 cm) above soil level. Start cutting at the top, chopping lower in small pieces. This is preferable to cutting at the stem base where tall stems can fall over and sting. Young leaves are best.
  2. Weigh about 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of leaves using scales.
  3. Add leaves to 2.5 gallons (10 liters) of water. Anaerobic bacteria will break down the nettles giving off a strong and unpleasant smell, so it’s best to use container with a cover or lid to contain the smell.
  4. Leave for about two weeks, stirring occasionally. Strain and dilute with water 1:10. Add residue of nettles to your compost heap.
  5. Cut nettles up to four times a year in spring and summer. They will grow again from the extensive food reserves in their roots.
  6. Use every 2 weeks for fast growing container plants. Liquid from nettles cut in spring has highest nutrient content, especially nitrogen rich, useful for leafy growth.

 

Resources

 

Garden Organic

Gardeners’ World

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