Monty Don (you can find Monty on twitter under @themontydon) often gives great advice, and last week on Gardeners' World he suggested the use of comfrey leaves as a mulch for tomatoes. As it has been a slow year for the indoor tomatoes we decided that they needed a sustained boost beyond comfrey juice. The question is, will this #gardeningtip from Monty cut the mustard up North? Many gardening tips seem to be aimed at those gardeners who garden south of London, the rest of us have to muddle through or just plant our backsides in the soil when the television tells us it's warm enough to direct sow. Nine times out of ten our buttocks are frozen to the soil and we know that any seed would clench up and shrivel up as we do.
That's the problem with trusting what we see on television, or even on seed packets. Remember that often a seed packet will say, 'Sow April to September' (well, we're being a bit wishful here but you get the idea), and the simple fact is that if you sow at the end of September you may as well kiss that crop goodbye North of Birmingham. It makes you feel sorry for those gardening in the Hebrides who get one day of summer on the 31st July each year before descending into darkness and the drums of Vikings sound off their coastline (we're joking, we know they're not Vikings, they're orcs). Yet, this does highlight the general advice given on seed packets, in books and on television shows. Once upon a time all gardening books came with a map of the UK, and that map was in several different colours with the words 'add X weeks'. Meaning that if the book gave advice for planting, they meant planting in the home counties and anyone beyond this civilised cluster were barbarians and needed an extra four-eight weeks to understand what was being said in that plummy BBC voice. Just joking. It was simply good advice that you should add X amount of weeks to the advice given in the book. Sow happily outdoors in Surrey in early April, be stupid if you do it in Cumbria at the same time.
So, the advice from Monty is simple. We love simple advice. We love advice we CAN ALL DO AT THIS TIME OF YEAR (sorry, we got shouty there, like #shoutyhalfhour the wonderful wealth of advice from everyday growers on twitter that accompanies Gardeners' World). You cut some leaves from your comfrey and you mulch the soil around your tomatoes.
This simply means layering down the leaves around the tomatoes covering the soil, we opted to do it between the rows to cut down on weeding, a good mulch will do that.
Whether it will work, we will see but let's face facts at this time of year, up North, we all have comfrey leaves growing out of our wazoo. That is a technical gardening term and if you just bend over we'll show you were to find it.