This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
I herewith send you a few roots of the genuine prickly comfrey which I imported a few weeks ago, with a few remarks of what I know about it as a forage plant in England, where I have seen it grown and used for several seasons while visiting in the Fall for my health. I cannot tell you to a nicety just how much it will produce per acre, nor can I tell you the yield of a solitary plant. But I can tell you that I have seen the fattest and sleekest cows and horses that it has ever been my lot to witness, regaled from the smallest patch of land that it is possible to conceive capable of sustaining the same number of head in the worst possible condition, if at all. I* hesitate to make the statement of the number of times it can be cut and the immense yield it will give. But I will only say if it will grow in this climate anything like it does near Epping Forest, then it will prove a most valuable acquisition to those living near large cities where land is high. Should you wish the result of my observations in England for the past three or four seasons, I will give you them, as they were what induced me to import it for our own use, and for introduction here.
Of one thing I am very clear that it is not all valuable alike.
[There are few more intelligent or conscientious culturists in our country than Mr. Grieves, and what he may have to say on this very interesting topic will have a more than usual interest to our readers. - Ed. G. M].
A Boston subscriber, says: "January, 1877, I bought a Prickly Comfrey root, from which I have propagated quite a lot of plants, which will, if reports prove as represented, give me a good opportunity to test it next spring, by seeing it grow, and feeding it to my cows, and find out if there is really any good in it. As I know of no party that has used it yet, I should like to know if you have any reports of it, from parties that are using Prickly Comfrey for their milch cows. By so doing, you will oblige me very much, as I intend to propagate as many more plants this Winter to plant out next Spring, as I shall have roots and cuttings, as I intend to give it a fair trial next Spring and Summer. I have had more or less of it, and fed it to my cows, which have always eaten it, but had never yet enough to feed a whole week or longer to see the effect of it. I sent you a leaf, some time ago, of a kind another man offers for sale, which you pronounced a humbug. If all kinds are are humbugs, I want to stop propagating; if otherwise, I want to go ahead with them.
If you answer through the Gardener's Monthly, please, do not use my name".
[We did not say the Comfrey sent us was "a humbug," but that it was not a Prickly Comfrey, but the common Comfrey, and that any one who sold it for the Prickly Comfrey, was guilty of fraud. As for the merits of the Prickly Comfrey as a forage plant, we know-nothing at all about it. We do not know that it is a "humbug," or that it is not. All that we claim credit for in this and similar instances is, that we do not fall in and smother a thing with kisses because some one has a few million roots to sell. We have preferred to wait till the facts should give us something re-liable for our readers. We do not want the man who carefully weighed his solitary plant, and then tells us of his wonderful product of herbage "per acre;" but we want the acre and the cow, and "all that sort of thing." "We have looked all over the country for him, and through all our exchanges to find his address, but he has not turned up yet. When it happens, our readers shall know all about him. - Ed. G. M].