Bocking 4 - Does it Exist in Australia?

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by JoeMerc, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Been looking around for a while now and it appears to me that Bocking 4 Comfrey does not actually exist in Australia.

    While Bocking 14 Comfrey is still hard to get here, but is still obtainable with some effort, the Bocking 4 appears to be impossible to obtain.

    So I will just put forward the question - Does anyone in Australia actually own the Symphytum Peregrinum Bocking 4 cultivar.

    Even if you dont, thoughts on this matter would be welcome. Good to get some different perspectives and ideas.

    Thanks
     
  2. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Ok after much looking around on Internet and making enquiries, taking into account that another similar thread in this forum also got a zero response, I think I am forced to conclude that Symphytum Peregrinum/Uplandicum -the Bocking 4 strain does not exist in Australia. It definitely exists in U.S.A where it is very popular for animal fodder, but suppliers overseas will not supply it because of having to go through quarantine restrictions. Anyone who would care to prove me wrong, I would like to hear from you :)
     
  3. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    Dont let that stop u growing comfrey!!
    I suspect it is more about the soil it is growing in!!
     
  4. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    No it wont stop me from growing Comfrey!!

    I think you are referring to the possibility that soil the comfrey is growing in may transfer disease to roots, which with any live plant material the carrying of disease is a distinct possibility.

    Suppliers wont supply live roots overseas, only dried ones. The reason they give is that there is a myriad of quarantine laws to comply with for each country, so they simply wont supply them.

    Now I have a taste of what people in Tasmania and WA have to contend with when it comes to allowing plant material into these states!!

    Thanks for the response.
     
  5. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    That and rhizobia would be nice to have but we have to work with the tools we have.

    I've had the standard Comfrey and the seed comfrey and the seed comfrey died out, after germinating a few plants here and there. Another climate and soil type other than mine, it may have been a tad hard to get rid of.
     
  6. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Did you start out the comfrey seeds in containers?
    Or did you plant directly?
    In Melbourne I have not tried germinating comfrey seed but
    tomatoes, silver-beet, pumpkins, marrows an orange tree everything has either germinated or grown when transplanted.
    In 2 years 100% success rate.
    Climate, soil, fertilizing, sufficient watering and timing do make a big difference.
     
  7. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Started in a nursery hothouse with bottom heat.

    They survived 2 years in the ground. They have longer, thinner leaves than the standard comfrey.

    My soil, when it begins to dry out, is very difficult to rewet. I've lost all my sweet potato, QLD Arrowroot and the Comfrey plants. It's why I built wicking beds, just so I could have something growing.
     
  8. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Obviously we are talking about different soils and climates here.
    The soil I have at home is a good clay which holds water combined with a more temperate climate.
    Only once have I had a problem with a plant suffering from water deficiency that was on deaths doorstep
    So I can empathize with your plight.

    I have a lime tree which had not made a lime in about 3 years because I had not watered it in all that time.
    I am lucky to have a lemon tree which fruits heavily and supplies more than I can handle.
    Consequently, I never bothered to look after the lime tree. I let couch grow round it. I never watered it. I never fertilized it. I let it get infested with gall wasp.

    Branches dried out. Leaves fell to the ground. Leaves it had on it were yellowish and all were curled up.
    Because I have a great lemon tree, I thought I don't need this tree. I will rip it out and make a garden bed there.
    But just before I was about to rip it out I thought about how in prior years one year it gave an especially good crop without any TLC

    People I know would love to have a good lime tree in their back yard and I let mine die off before my eyes.
    Now the soil was extremely dry. I had tried watering it and the water went down like I was pouring it down a sink with no end in sight. I realized this was going to require many hours of watering necessitating a lot of time, effort and patience.
    I did not have the time or patience to do that so I stopped watering it

    What it really needed was for a good rain to occur. I decided I would leave it to fate and wait for some good rain.
    If the tree died in the meantime so be it. If we got some heavy rain to bring up the water level in the soil I would put in a good effort to save it.

    Well by then the tree was really looking worse for wear. But we did have some heavy rainfall
    I checked the soil for the water level and it was up.
    I dug around the lime and removed the couch grass. Not an easy job.
    I gave it a good dose of gypsum for sulphur and calcium and to combat any issues with salt in the soil.
    I then gave it a very heavy dressing of compost which also acts as a mulch
    I gave it good doses of weed compost water every now and again
    Oh and I gave it some comfrey to act as a mulch and fertilizer
    I pruned the tree heavily to get rid of dead branches and gall wasps.
    I kept the water levels up - soil is moist but not wet.

    Well the effect was that the tree has doubled in size. It grew new branches and leaves
    Leaves turned to green. It is currently full of small limes and appears very happy.
    Of course this occurred in my soil and climate.
     
  9. Raymondo

    Raymondo Junior Member

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    What particularly attracts you to Bocking 4? I have Bocking 14 and am very happy with it. It seems well behaved. It's been used as a border around a zone 1 veg garden and will be put into the new market garden come orchard which we are just starting to create.
     
  10. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Just briefly because Im a bit short on time.

    I believe there are approximately 23 bocking cultivars.

    Of these 2 stand out, Bocking 14 which is generally regarded as the best variety for garden purposes
    And Bocking 4 which is considered the best for animal fodder. Now these can be used interchangeably

    I would like to grow both to compare them and their various uses.

    I have bocking 14 growing at home. When I bought the initial plants the nursery that sold them, did not even know what strain they were although they knew they were Symphytum Uplandicum.

    When I became aware it was Bocking 14, I realized that I had not seen any Bocking 4 in Australia and thought it would be interesting to grow both.

    The fact that I had never even seen it advertised anywhere in Australia led me to suspect that it does not exist here. So that is why I put out the question as to whether anyone in Australia was growing it.

    As to what I think of Bocking 14. I agree wholeheartedly with you. A great plant that all gardeners should have growing in their back yard if they can.
     
  11. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    How are the pyrrolizidine alkaloids levels in Bocking 4 since personally I would not risk liver damage to my animals.
     
  12. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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  13. Nick Ritar

    Nick Ritar Junior Member

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    Not sure about the alkaloids in Bocking 4, but the best reference for Comfrey both for growing it and it's use of stock feed is by the guy who did all the trials, the creator of the Boking names - Lawrence Hills. You can buy his book "Comfrey: Past, Present and Future" via Amazon or download it via google books https://books.google.com.au/books?id=MOnw2uftkm4C
     
  14. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Firstly, what sort of animals do you have?

    Oh and do read the book Nick was referring to. Excellent book
     
  15. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    So what does THE book say?????






    What do we need to know about comfrey ???8)
    How should one approach breeding of such important variances as the bocking 14!!
     
  16. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Im surprised Andrew that you are even asking this question. That is if it is a serious question.

    The first book I read about comfrey was Comfrey: Past, Present and Future.

    Why this book? Because Lawrence Hills was the world's foremost expert on comfrey.

    For any serious novice, I recommend you start here BEFORE growing any comfrey.

    For example it saved me from making a few big errors.

    First one was that when I first started learning about comfrey, the only one I knew about was Symphytum Officinale because this is the one most people seem to want to flog. Not sure why, when the Bocking 4/14 hybrids are superior in many ways. The real clincher though was that without careful monitoring ie cutting the flowers the plant could become invasive and the neighbours who can be quite abrasive would have kicked up a stink if they found it growing in their yards and knew it came from mine. I learnt that the Bocking cultivars are sterile and quite controllable

    Another error avoided was that I was thinking that because of the limited compost I had at the time I was going to have to forgo fertilizing the 2 garden beds I have currently and leave them for the following year. From the book I learnt that compost alone is actually not conducive for growing good comfrey. It releases its nitrogen too slowly. So instead I gave the garden bed a heavy dose of animal manure and saved the compost for my garden beds. The comfrey grew beautifully. I worked out from this that I could also simply give it weed compost water which is another instant form of nitrogen.

    Initially I was unsure of the spacing of the comfrey some sources said 2 feet others said 3 feet. From this book it was quite clear that 3 feet was the best spacing for my climate and had I lived closely to the equator even 4 feet because of the unrelenting pace that comfrey grows there ie all year round.

    Some trivia for you. What are the 3 plants in the world which contain Vitamin B12? No prizes for the guessing the first one :):)
     
  17. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Spirulina (related to Seaweed, but a simple algae plant)
    Seaweed, lots of B12 (macro algae)
    Fermented Japanese Black Tea
    Hydroponic lettuces (they pick up b12 better than soil, go fig)
    Soybeans and the fermented products of due to Fermentation with Lactobacillus
    Kimchi fermented with Lactobacillus
    Moringa
    & Soy, Barley Kernals, and Spinach when composted with cow manures.

    Do I get bonus points for knowing more than 3? :D
     
  18. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    I will read it, but with respect, your book is from the 1950's and the 1st website I cited uses modern Scientific References. I have a hard time listening to the 1950's with this huge stack of modern research I have URL'd below.

    Here is the reference page
     
  19. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    Lucerne!!
    So am i about to die????
     
  20. JoeMerc

    JoeMerc Junior Member

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    Yes you get extra brownie points !!
    Congratulations. You go to the top of the class :handshake:
     

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