The Plant You Should Grow In Your Garden For Healthy Soil (& An Easy DIY Fertilizer)

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a brand-new plant enthusiast, you understand how important the health of your soil is to the outcome of your harvest. This is why most gardeners spend a significant amount of time and money selecting, purchasing, and applying commercial fertilizers to their plants. However, many of these fertilizers are made from highly concentrated synthetic mineral blends that can damage your plants if too much is applied.

Organic fertilizers — made from natural sources like bone meal, blood meal, or even sewage sludge — are easier on your plants but come at a higher price. Also, if you're particularly squeamish, their ingredients might not be the easiest for you to work with. Fortunately, there is an easy, natural way to make your own effective soil fertilizer without risking damage to your plants, your wallet, or your dignity: comfrey plants. This one uniquely nutrient-dense plant can improve the health of your soil and the quality of all the other plants in your garden. 

What is comfrey?

Comfrey, also known as Symphytum officinale, is a flowering perennial that was once used for its medicinal properties. Unfortunately, over time, it became clear that ingesting the plant can cause liver damage, lung damage, or even cancer. While some people continue to use comfrey topically to treat bruises and inflammation, Mount Sinai warns that its harmful compounds are capable of passing through the skin and entering the bloodstream. Luckily, anti-inflammatory properties aren't this plant's only special feature.

In addition to containing key nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium, comfrey holds the highest percentage of protein of any plant. Protein content is directly correlated with nitrogen content. It is also the only plant that is a source of vitamin B-12. Comfrey gets its supercharged nutrient content by tapping into deep layers of soil that other plants can't reach. It accomplishes this thanks to its roots, which grow to an astounding length of 10 feet or longer. 

How to make comfrey fertilizer

Utilizing the high level of all three essential plant nutrients found in comfrey — along with its impressive list of macronutrients — to fertilize your garden is surprisingly simple. For the most effective application, just cover 1 quart of comfrey leaves with 4 gallons of water in a large covered container. You want the container to be covered because the fermentation process can get quite odorous, leaving behind a pungent smell. Allow the mixture to steep for 10 to 30 days, and then apply it to the base of your plants. 

You can also pulse the leaves in your blender with hot water to make a quicker version of comfrey fertilizer. Add both the liquid and the leaf chunks to your plants' bases. If you'd like to keep it as simple and as natural as possible, you can also chop up the leaves from your comfrey plants and spread them across your dirt. Over time, the leaves will decay, and their nutrients will sink into the soil below.