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FOCUS ON HERBS: ZONE 7: COMFREY

The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into eleven growing zones. These are determined by weather patterns, and this system helps gardeners identify plants that grow well in their region. Zone 7 has a moderately long growing season that lasts about eight months, with an annual low temperature of about 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The first frost is around November 15th, and the last frost is around April 15th.

When choosing herbs for the garden, if a perennial herb that isn’t suited to zone 7 is desired, grow it in a container and then bring it indoors over the winter. If the difference is minor, between zones a and b, plant the herb in a protected area, in an alcove, or between a solid fence and a building. If this isn’t possible, mulch heavily around the plant in the fall and the plant should survive the winter.


PLANT PROFILE:

COMFREY (Symphytum officinale):

Comfrey is a tall and low maintenance perennial plant that is grown for its beauty and medicinal value. It is used as a topical treatment for skin irritations, cuts, sprains, and swelling, as well as a livestock feed, and for making compost. It is no longer used internally due to the discovery that it can be carcinogenic. Comfrey plants shoot up early in the season, and can grow to five feet. It has a deep taproot, is extremely drought tolerant, produces multi-colored flowers on forked cymes, and has pale flowers and dark green leaves. Comfrey is widely adapted, and will thrive in rich, organic soil. It is a rapid grower that needs a lot of nitrogen, therefore, adding organic matter to the soil is essential. Plant crown cuttings three-to-six inches deep. Plants that are grown for harvesting should be spaced three feet apart.


Comfrey leaves, flowers, and roots are used medicinally, with the root being a bit more potent and mucilaginous than the leaves. Leaves are gathered from the healthy plant any time during its growing season, although the best time for a leaf harvest is during flowering. Bundle the leaves in very small hatches, and hang upside down out of the sun, in a spot where there is good air circulation. Comfrey root can be dug in early spring, just as shoots emerge from the soil, or in the fall after frosts have cut back leafy material. The roots should be dug, cleaned, and cut into thin slices. Store leaves and roots when dried in an airtight container out of the sun.


Check out our recipe tab for an amazing Comfrey recipe!

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