How to create your own plant food from comfrey and nettles by Rachel Hammond

If you grow a lot of edible plants, you will probably be thinking about what to feed them – especially any in pots, or those which need an extra boost of nutrients e.g. tomatoes and other fruit.

The good news is that it is very easy – and free – to make your own liquid fertiliser or feed from nettles and/or comfrey leaves.


Nettles are rich in nitrogen and make a beneficial fertiliser or tea. See here for instructions.


Comfrey is known as a ‘dynamic accumulator’ – this means its long tap root brings nutrients back to the surface, making these nutrients available to the fungi and plant roots in the soil.

If you grow Comfrey plants, put one or two at the base of fruiting trees to help with the potassium needed to produce fruit.

Choose ‘Bocking 14’ variety, which doesn’t spread – Comfrey can dominate!

You can then use the Comfrey leaves to either make a liquid feed (also known as Comfrey tea – don’t drink it!), or chop the leaves off and leave them on the soil surface to decompose into the soil.

Comfrey tea – put leaves into a bucket of water (fully submerge the leaves.  Leave for two weeks then strain the water.  It will really smell (!) so wear gloves.   Use this concentrate one part to nine parts water, and use to water your plants directly.  Only use this about once a week maximum, it is incredibly nutrient-rich.

Comfrey chop and drop – cut leaves and lay around the plants you wish to feed.  You can layer them two or three deep.  Again you would only do this a couple of times during the growing season.

If you don’t want to use Comfrey, nettles (of the stinging variety) can be used to make a ‘tea’ in the same way as above.

You can also choose to mix the two.

Comfrey pellets and tonic can be bought if you don’t want to make your own.  It’s a great choice for organic growers and gardeners.

More information on Comfrey from Garden Organic can be seen here:

Rachel Hammond

Rachel Hammond from Newbury is a landscape architect, urban designer, gardener and master composter, specialising in edible landscapes, food production and biodiversity planting. She has worked in the sustainability sector for the last 20 years, always growing her own food. She now runs edge, a non-profit which educates on and designs urban food production systems and ecological farming practices.


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