Once upon a time a gardener planted comfrey at the allotment gardens, and now there are big patches of it growing near my plots. Comfrey spreads readily from the tiniest piece of root left in the ground. Experienced gardeners will tell you, once you plant comfrey, don't ever dig it up, or else you will have it everywhere. Someone must have ignored this advice, or perhaps a new renter had a plot tilled with comfrey growing in it. Whatever the history, we are blessed to have access to such a wonderful plant growing in abundance.
I say 'blessed' because comfrey is rich in nutrients and minerals and makes a wonderful mulch for garden beds. You can add it to your compost pile to heat things up, or add it to buckets of water and let it steep into a funky smelling compost tea. Free, organic fertiliser! Not to mention that the plant also has wonderful medicinal qualities as well.
On Friday evening I took my wheelbarrow to the comfrey patch to gather some plants for mulch.
Sadly, not everyone sees this plant the same way I do. A lot of people, who do not know about the many benefits of comfrey, think of it as a nuisance weed that spreads and takes over their garden. They curse it and the person who brought it into the allotments. Even worse, they treat the comfrey patch as a trash heap, throwing garbage and other garden refuse into the plants (and I'm not talking about the biodegradable kind). Among others things, I uncovered this tangled mess of plastic trellising.
I pulled it out and carried it to the dumpster, feeling sad and a bit angry. Why would my fellow gardeners, who understand what it means to grow something in the earth and then eat it, do this? I wondered what it would take for people to stop using this space as a dump.
There is a large bulletin board in the centre of the allotments. If I posted some information there about comfrey and all its benefits, I wonder if that would make a difference? If people saw the comfrey as a valuable, free resource that could help make their gardens lush, their soil rich and their vegetables happy, instead of seeing it as a cursed weed, would they be more respectful of the space where it grows? I don't think a lot of people read what is on the board and for many people at the garden, English is not their first language. I think I'll try it anyway and see what happens.
Actually, I find that my visible actions tend to create opportunities for discussion. People see me harvesting nettle and other weeds and ask me about them. Now, I see some ladies picking nettle.
Maybe if they see me with my wheelbarrow full of comfrey, they'll stop and ask me about that too, and I can tell them how awesome it is!