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Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Comfrey

I frequent abandoned farmsteads, where I hope to find enough apples and pears not yet worm-eaten to stay ahead of our pantry requirements till the new orchard gets into production. It sometimes happens one comes across irresistible items, lost and forgotten in the shifting tides of homesteading. I remember coming home four years ago with a small duffel bag absolutely stuffed with roots.

"What's all this?" asked Beloved.

"Well, I was out at this old place picking apples, and there was all this comfrey and I couldn't resist...."

"Comfrey?!" Her eyes fairly bugged out with horror.

"Why? Doesn't everybody have comfrey?" I could remember clearly that in a valley where we had long lived, all the communes and homesteads had comfrey all over the place.

"Comfrey was big in the seventies, but they found out it's carcinogenic! And it spreads like the dickens and never goes away. You grew up in Georgia, don't you remember the kudzu?"

Yes, I remember kudzu.

But our kudzu here is the Himalaya blackberry, and we've learned to coexist with that -- just check our freezer.

But I had a plan.

"Look, I'm only going to put it in the orchard, on the other side of the creek. I'll watch to make sure none of it ever comes up over here."

"But what do you want it for?"

"Pigs. Gonna feed it to pigs. Heard it's high protein and doesn't bother them."

Well, I got away with that one. The comfrey, that is. Our pig barn, in case you're wondering, is the shed up on the hill that's full of all the trash we've pulled out of the blackberries. So that's a project for another millennium... meanwhile the comfrey is a raving success, but to keep it from spreading across the bridge, I harvest the stuff three times a year, before it goes to seed.

Makes splendid compost.

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