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Hints & Tips

Comfrey Feed for mature plants

Harvest comfrey leaves from the base of established plants. The hairy leaves can irritate the skin, so wear gloves if necessary.

Remove flowers and tough stems, then chop up the leaves and pack them tightly into a water-tight container. If possible, choose a container with a lid, as the solution can smell as the leaves break down. Use a brick to weigh down the leaves.

Check on the progress every few weeks. The leaves will break down gradually, releasing a smelly brown liquid. Top up with fresh leaves and collect any liquid, storing it in a cool, dark place.

Dilute the collected liquid at a rate of one part comfrey to 10 parts water - the darker it is, the more you'll need to dilute it. Use the solution as a potassium-rich liquid fertiliser to encourage flowers and fruit set. Also recommended - using rhubarb leaves either on their own or in with comfrey leaves to make an excellent natural and free fertilizer - again the smell is horrendous but the effect on plants is remarkable. The rhubarb soup also has the added benefit of scaring off a number of bugs (probably the smell!). Make Comfrey fertilizer by soaking the leaves in a large plastic container ( e.g. tub used for pelleted chicken manure ) . It is not neccessary to put any weight on top of the leaves, but a tight fitting lid is essential to contain the bad smell.
elder leaves   

Aphid Attack

The aphids on these bellis daisies were sprayed with Ladybird friendly insecticide and were gone within 3 days.

Ladybird friendly insecticide

This targets the following insects: aphids, white fly, carrot root fly, cucumber beetles, peach tree borers, and root maggots. Elder leaves also have fungicidal properties and may be useful against mildew and blackspot diseases.

To make:

Strip the elder leaves from the stems and until you have 8 ounces/ 226g of leaves.

Simmer in 16fl. ounces/475ml. of water for 30 minutes. Stir this thoroughly, then strain. Take 16 ounces/475ml of warm water and mix with 1 tablespoon of *castile soap or grated soap. If using grated soap, stir until dissolved. Add soap mixture to the elder leaf water and pour into glass jars with screw on lids.

Stored in a dark place, it keeps for at least a year. Pour into a sprayer as needed, setting the nozzle to a coarse or large droplet setting as this mixture will tend to plug a fine setting.

*castile soap can be bought in liquid form on-line, but is expensive;. Grated Knights Castile or Pears transparent soap works just as well.


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