Alfalfa pellets

old_dirt(5b)March 21, 2009

I am considering using alfalfa pellets this year in my vegetable garden and flower beds. I've never used anything but manure and compost in the past. I'm thinking it will be a little less labor intensive.

The problem is, I already have a rabbit problem. I was thinking I'd incorporate the pellets into the top few inches of soil and then put an inch or so of compost on top. Do you think this might foil the rabbits somewhat?



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That was my concern as well altho it was our wild deer which I didn't want to attract so I made alfalfa tea. It's more labor intensive but more valuable than just using pellets. When alfalfa ferments it produces a growth stimulator/regulator/hormone which is very good for plants.

I've used this the last two years and am very impressed with the results. Brewed up many gallons of the stinky stuff last year.

Here's one of many links that tell about it. Some recipes add magnesium sulfate (epsom salts) as well to the brew. Good for roses that way. I've done it both ways.

Here is a link that might be useful: alfalfa tea

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 7:04PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

You don't have to go to the trouble of making tea. Scatter the alfalfa pellets and spray them with a light mist of water. The pellets absorb the water and expand (a very slow burst) into alfalfa meal (did you ever scrunch up a soda straw wrapper and then get it wet to make a snake??). Then if you water again the alfalfa settles down into the soil.

I would not bury them or make tea unless the rabbits were a definite problem and not just a hypothetical problem.

I would not add magnesium sulfate unless you knew for sure you needed magnesium and/or sulfate. There are problems with having too much magnesium.

When you use the alfalfa, be prepared for a sudden burst of growth. I got six inches of growth from my orange tree in the last month from the alfalfa pellets I put on them on Washington's Birthday. Normally orange trees are flowering this time of year, not growing.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:37AM
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I use alfalfa pellets on my daylilies, and agree with dchall.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 2:17PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I have a rabbit problem with or without alfalfa pellets. I don't think the pellets made it any worse. I don't think the wild rabbits view the pellets as food, as they tend to prefer seedlings, especially baby peas and baby petunias.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 6:19PM
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I discovered that the alfalfa pellets were attracting the deers into the gardens as well as slugs. To control the problem, I would take some alfalfa pellets and get them damp so they would crumble, then mix with UCGs (used coffee grounds). If I left the pellets whole, the slugs would really go for them. In any case, the mix is applied to the gardens in the spring and everything grows well. The smell of the UCGs deters the deers a bit.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:48PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Since I started using alfalfa pellets and other organic fertilizers, I no longer have slugs or snails. Instead I have toads, lizards, geckos, and birds, which eat slugs and snails.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I've used alfalfa meal and alfalfa pellets for years. The meal needs to be worked into the soil to stay put. The pellets don't need it but they break down faster if they are surrounded by moist soil. I do not find that I have more rabbit trouble than I would otherwise. The only word of caution: one of the byproducts of alfalfa when it breaks down is a growth stimulant (see orange tree story above), so you need to think of it as applying both fertilizer and growth hormones, and you have to calculate that the latter will kick in about a month after you apply the alfalfa. In my zone 4 garden, I never apply alfalfa after early July lest I stimulate growth in early September when my plants need to be throttling back in preparation for winter.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 6:53PM
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Where do you buy alfalfa pellets?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 9:35PM
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Lots of good info from everyone, thanks. I'll try it several ways (tea, worked into the soil and just scattered on top) and see what effect it has with rabbits, deer and slugs. All of these are real problems and not "hypothetical".

Alfalfa pellets can be purchased at most places that sell pet supplies. I found them at my local seed store for as little as $.30 a pound when buying 25 lbs. Just ask for rabbit feed.

One more thing, can you use to much? I know not to use it late in the season and excess could arguably result in pollution but would it have an adverse effect on the plants?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 10:18PM
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If you have trouble finding alfalfa, check local supply of rabbit pellets. Check the ingredients, though, because some don't use alfalfa for the green. It's excellent fertilizer, and great in the heap, having alfalfa, and assorted grains. Sometimes the price is a lot better, and the small pellet size quickens the falling apart, and makes it easier to spread evenly. Keep in mind that it has less alfalfa per pound, being diluted with grain. Also, some brands have quite a few mineral additives. It may not be organic for that reason.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 4:23AM
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Yes, you can use too much, or too much in the wrong place :-) Alfalfa decomposes very rapidly (often recommended to kick-start cold compost piles) and that decompostion generates heat. Avoid applying raw alfalfa (meal or pellets) to the root zone as it can burn roots. Don't add alfalfa to planting holes - keep it as a surface application.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 9:56AM
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Have you considered using other seed meals, like soybean or canola? Generally speaking, they pack a 4-2-1 fertilizer punch without the growth stimulus of alfalfa that everyone has mentioned. Simply work the seed meal into the surface 4-8 inches in a new bed, or use it to side dress existing plants. Just remember to keep your seed meals (alfalfa or otherwise) in a sealed metal container or you will be inviting mice for dinner.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 10:06AM
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Yes, gardengal is correct..I just found out the hard way on a particular clematis. Four of five thrived with the fifth, a different variety, getting burned maybe beyond repair.

Sometimes. I. am. overzealous.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 2:09PM
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Compressed alfalfa bales that I use to feed my rabbits always bursts with a nice alfalfa powder. I just love alfalfa in bale or pellet form. So many uses. And every time I clean up the shed where the bales are kept I'm rewarded with the fine alfalfa dust. Otherwise I don't hesitate to grind some pellets in the mill if I need. The hay isn't cheap and it's meant for the buns.

I once used alfalfa hay to bury my onion seedlings before a cold front arrived. I found out quickly that compressed alfalfa hay is hot. Combined with the light rain, it was smoldering the next day.

I appreciate this thread as it helped me decide how much and when to fertilize this year's onion bed. I was considering urine, but I'd rather not mess with urine if alfalfa will do the trick. Wasn't aware of the hormone, so I'll use it judiciously on non root crops and switch to urine, I suppose, when necessary. Ick. This fall I'll load up the alfalfa so it has a chance to build up in the soil for next year, I suppose.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2015 at 12:43PM
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david52 Zone 6

The process of bailing alfalfa does not get hot enough to kill seeds, where pelleting does so. Alfalfa sends down a pretty hefty taproot, and if you don't catch them soon, they can be hard to pull.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2015 at 8:26AM
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My comment above re hot alfalfa was placing fresh alfalfa hay (powder and all) atop the garden bed. Then, it rained just so.... lol

They would have a serious problem if the bales got hot. Never thot about the seed.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2015 at 1:19PM
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