onederwFebruary 13, 2013

A very stupid question about alfalfa, made dumber by how long it's taken me to ask it: We know it's great for roses -- is it good for anything else in the garden?


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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23


    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:10AM
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I was checking out info on this as well recently. Research came out that alfalfa is about a 2-1-2 for NPK. Release time is 1-4 months. There's also a growth stimulant called trianconatol, a natural fatty-acid. I was told that it work great on grass. I'm going to try it with my perennial beds this year as well.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:13AM
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Tomatoes, hostas, clematis all like alfalfa to name a few. Alfalfa meal is used in making both Mills Magic Mix & Epsoma fertilizers. Any plant that likes a soil with good organic content &a regular feeding to perform well will like alfalfa.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:58AM
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Can I just use rabbit food Alfalfa pellets?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 3:48AM
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Yes, you can use the rabbit food. Just read the label and be sure it's pure alfalfa. I use it on a lot of things, not just roses.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 7:53AM
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Alfalfa like clover, beans and peas is a legume. What makes a legume special is that they are a family of plants than can pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it so it is usable for the plant. As these plants then die and recycle back onto the soil they are a source of nitrogen that didn't come from the soil--so unlike other plants they enrich/fertilize it.

Farmers have had this knowledge of legumes probably for centuries, and have used a legume like alfalfa as a cover crop or as a part of a crop rotation plan. I manage about 30 acres of pasture for forage for horses (and a few cows) and for the same reason like to keep a little clover in my pasture's mix of grasses.

Legumes add nitrogen which of big 3--NPK or nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium--is the most likely to move through your soil and be depleted. Since my soil tests don't ever show deficiencies in P or K and are most likely to be low in N keeping clover in my grass mix ( about 10%) reduces the amount of N in the form of ammonium nitrate I have to spread on my fields. Well, that and the horses love it!

Theoretically, anything that benefits from added nitrogen will be happy with alfalfa.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Just look at added salt. Rabbit food probably has it.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 6:16PM
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Tuggy3(9b NorCal)

I buy alfalfa pellets from the feed store with no additives like sugar or salt. I try to spread the pellets out a bit so they don't bunch up and form a mat after it rains. Organic farmers in our area plant alfalfa as one of their cover crops and plow it under before they plant new veggie crops. Must be pretty good stuff. Mary

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Tuggy3(9b NorCal)

Forgot to mention. There is a very long thread about chemical fertilizers and the soil on this forum. Alfalfa comes up near the end of the thread. Lots of different ideas about its effectiveness. Mary

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 9:59PM
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Thanks everyone.

I have tossed old alfalfa pellets (and rabbit poop both) directly out into my various gardens with wonderful returns.
It sure enriches the soil.

Yes, the rabbit alfalfa pellets I buy at the ranch and feed stores and county farm co-ops is pure. No additives.

The ranchers and farmers around me plant alfalfa and clover every other year. They also use mung beans and soy beans as a cover crop, tilling in the plant material after harvesting the beans..

Again, thanks for the info. Always on the look-out for ways to improve my soil. Good soil - good plants.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 8:06PM
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