Happy Tomatoes

My tomatoes are a wee bit late this year, as I grew them all from seed, and I was slow getting off the mark. They’re looking good, but at this stage they need a good feed to really get them going.

There are plenty of liquid tomato feeds available at garden centres and DIY stores but…many of them come in plastic containers and they have quite a few road miles under their belt.

If you’ve got room, it’s incredibly easy to make your own liquid comfrey feed – cheaper and greener, and due to its high nitrogen content, it’s a highly nutritious plant & vegetable feed – perfect for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

Comfrey is a real wonder herb – it is used in healing salves, to restore lustre and shine to hair. Our chickens loved pecking at the comfrey plants – it’s high in protein, so very good for them. And…our honeybees feed on the flowers in early spring.

A word of warning – comfrey spreads like mad, so you might want to keep it isolated. We’ve grown it in a round flower bed and also on a steep bank at the front of our house, where its long root system has been brilliant for stabilising the earth in the bank. It has beautiful mauve flowers – an added bonus.

To make liquid comfrey feed, just pick the comfrey leaves from the base of the plant (you might want to use gloves as the hairy leaves can irritate). Chop them up and pack them into a bucket or better still, a tub with a lid (we used an old fat ball tub) – it does smell so the lid keeps the aroma contained and stops mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water. Cover the leaves with water – weigh them down with a large stone or old brick – and leave for a few weeks until you can see a brown smelly liquid.

Pour the liquid into a container and store in a cool, dark place (you can top up the leaves with more water for another batch if you like). Dilute the comfrey feed in a ratio of roughly 1 part comfrey liquid to 10 parts water and hey presto! Use as soon as your tomato flowers have set fruit.

You can also use comfrey leaves as a plant mulch and it’s great on the compost heap too. Alternatively, lay comfrey leaves at the bottom of your potato and runner bean trenches for a fantastic boost.

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