Alfalfa Meal is an excellent all natural fertilizer product made from fermented alfalfa plants and seeds. It is often used in organic gardening and provides a tremendous boost to blooming plants.
The trace minerals elements found in alfalfa meal provide added nutrition helping flowering shrubs and perennials to bloom quicker and maintain blooms longer throughout the season.
It increases crop yield, improves soil condition and much more. In this article, we explain and explore the many benefits of using organic alfalfa meal in your garden. Read on to learn more.
What Is Alfalfa Meal?
Alfalfa meal is made by fermenting adult plants and seeds of the alfalfa plant.
The product is airy and light and smells wholesome and earthy (as opposed to chemical fertilizers which often have a strong, artificial smell.)
Alfalfa fertilizer is affordable and usually comes in 50-pound bags which you can purchase at any animal feed store.
Use the product all around your blooming shrubs and perennials, throughout your garden and in your compost pile or bin.
Where Can You Get Organic Meal From Alfalfa For Plants?
While you can purchase alfalfa meal at large garden centers, online and in some other types of stores, your best bet is to buy it at an animal feed store.
There you’ll get the best prices and have access to the largest bags of the meal.
If the store doesn’t have the meal on hand, use the pellet form instead. The pellets are a little bit easier to handle, but they do cost a little bit more. Alfalfa cubes may also be an option.
How Do You Use Alfalfa Meal In The Garden?
This all-natural product is easy to use. Use it as a natural fertilizer throughout the growing season by sprinkling it on the ground around the plants you wish to feed.
For example, alfalfa as a meal or pellet form is an excellent supplement for rose bushes. It is also an excellent soil conditioner.
Just sprinkle a couple of cups around each bush in the garden beds and work it into the soil surface. Follow up with a good watering, and you’re good to go.
When fertilizing roses and other flowering shrubs and perennials, it’s a good idea to do an initial application early in the spring when plants first start growing.
For blooming plants or ones producing fruit only once, you won’t need to fertilize again.
For plants that bloom or produce fruit throughout the season, fertilize with the meal once every six weeks.
How Much Of The Meal Pellets Should I Use?
For a light application, apply about 12 pounds of the meal for every thousand square feet of garden.
Another way to measure it is to use a quarter cup per plant or a pound of meal for every 20′ foot row of plants.
For a normal application, apply about 25 pounds for every thousand sq. feet of garden.
For individual plants, apply a third of a cup of meal. When fertilizing by rows, add 2 pounds for every 20′-foot row.
For heavy applications use as much as 50 pounds of pelleted meal for every thousand square feet of garden.
Increase the amount per plant to half a cup. You can use as much as 3 pounds of the pellets for every 20′-foot row.
Alfalfa Tea Fertilizer Recipe
If you prefer, mix up a liquid alfalfa based tea fertilizer to apply about once a month.
This is a good option for houseplants, container plants and for gardeners sensitive to alfalfa dust.
In a large tub or jug with a lid, combine:
* Five gallons of water
* Four cups of meal
* One or two cups of Epsom salts
Allow the mixture to sit and steep for about a week. Apply the mixture directly to the soil by hand with a watering can or use a water sprayer to apply a lighter solution as a foliar application over entire plants.
How Does Organic Alfalfa Meal Work?
This all-natural, organic plant food and soil amendment works by using micro-bacteria to breakdown elements in the soil and produce heat. This accelerates decomposition of the trace minerals contained in the meal. Rhizobacteria found in the meal continue to process the nutrients it contains. This makes them easily available for use by your plants.
The meal decomposes very rapidly and generates a great deal of heat quickly. This quality makes alfalfa an excellent addition to any compost pile. When you mulch the meal into your compost, it accelerates decomposition so that you can produce good garden soil much faster.
Not only does the addition of alfalfa to your compost speed decomposition, but your finished compost will have a far higher nutrient level when you add alfalfa. More nutritious compost naturally creates more nutritious veggies and happier and healthier plants and bushes.
You can use meal alfalfa to accelerate your compost or to directly fertilize plants. Either way, using this simple product is an excellent way to help your plants produce more blooms and more fruit.
What Are the Benefits of Using Alfalfa in Your Garden?
Alfalfa meal is an excellent source of trace elements. When you add the pellets to your soil, you are adding:
Alfalfa meal’s NPK ratio is 3 – .5 – 3.
Using alfalfa increases organic matter in your garden and provides a wealth of nutrients to your plants roots. The high nitrogen content in the meal encourages other organic materials in the soil to decompose.
All of this added organic matter helps prevent soil compaction. Furthermore extra organic material helps maintain moisture in your soil. It improves the structure of the soil and discourages erosion.
Alfalfa fertilizer also feeds beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Remember that alfalfa is full of natural sugars, fibers, amino acids and protein, so beneficial microorganisms that encounter it in your soil will make good use of it as a food source.
The meal of Alfalfa contains a growth hormone (triacontanol) that helps stimulate plant roots’ growth. Furthermore, it increases beneficial soil microbes and enhances photosynthesis.
Adding alfalfa pellets or meal to your soil can also help reduce nematodes.
Cyst nematodes, which attack carrots, and root-knot nematodes, which are infamous for attacking tomato plants are especially negatively impacted by the addition of the meal to the soil.
Adding organic matter to your soil gives it a sponge like ability that helps protect your plants against drought.
Why Is It Better To Use Organic Fertilizers?
Organic fertilizers such as alfalfa are directly derived from natural sources. Chemical fertilizers (e.g. ammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate) are synthetic and made by unnatural manufacturing processes.
Even though many synthetic fertilizers are sourced initially from naturally occurring mineral deposits, the processes they go through cause them to have unnaturally high amounts of only a few nutrients.
Generally speaking, synthetic fertilizers contain high amounts of sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Some of them also have micronutrients added.
Even though synthetic fertilizers deliver nutrients that are very quickly available to your plants, they also quickly dissipate.
This means that when you use a chemical fertilizer, you must use much more of it and much more frequently than an organic fertilizer such as alfalfa meal.
Even though alfalfa breaks down quickly, heats up soil and accelerates the decomposition of natural organic matter, its results are long-lasting making a good soil amendment.
The meal stays active in the soil for a very long time so that you only need to fertilize once or twice a season.
Concentrated chemical fertilizers can easily burn and damage your plants. They also bring along large amounts of unnatural salts, which can build up in your soil.
Alfalfa fertilizer and other organic fertilizers are safer for delicate plant roots and stems and do not cause a buildup of detrimental salts in the soil.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Alfalfa Meal?
Avoid using alfalfa pellets or meal on plants that like acidic soil. Understand that the product is quite alkaline, so it would not be good for plants such as rhododendrons, camellias and blueberries.
Be advised that ‘meal’ is very powdery, and it is unpleasant to inhale. Be sure to wear your facemask and goggles before you begin tossing at about in your garden.
Remember that pellets of alfalfa is not only edible, but it is also quite desirable to wild critters. Keep your meal in a metal container with a secure lid, such as a metal garbage can.
If you leave loose bags sitting around in your garden shed, you will surely come back to find that mice have chewed holes in them and eaten your fertilizer.
Alfalfa Meal Is User Friendly, Earth Friendly and Animal Friendly
Alfalfa as a fertilizer is very easy to use, and it is an excellent alternative to other types of organic fertilizers such as blood meal or even compost which may contain too much nitrogen content for use by delicate plants.
Additionally, the use of alfalfa is more acceptable to vegetarian and vegan gardeners than products such as blood meal or fish emulsion plant food.