Alfalfa meal fertilizer is an excellent product for use in organic gardening.
It’s an all natural substance that provides a tremendous boost to blooming plants.
The trace elements found in alfalfa meal provide added nutrition that helps flowering shrubs and perennials to bloom more quickly and maintain blooms longer throughout the growing 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 the 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 Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer?
While you can purchase alfalfa pellets or 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 alfalfa meal.
If the store doesn’t have the meal on hand, use alfalfa pellets instead. The pellets are a little bit easier to handle, but they do cost a little bit more.
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 meal is an excellent supplement for rose bushes.
Just sprinkle a couple of cups around each bush and work it into the surface of the soil. 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 growing season, fertilize with alfalfa meal once every six weeks.
How Much Alfalfa Meal Should I Use?
For a light application, apply about 12 pounds of alfalfa 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 alfalfa meal for every 20′ foot row of plants.
For a normal application, apply about 25 pounds of alfalfa meal for every thousand square 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 alfalfa 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 alfalfa meal 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 alfalfa 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 Alfalfa Meal Work?
This all-natural, organic fertilizer works by using micro-bacteria to breakdown elements in the soil and produce heat. This accelerates decomposition of the 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.
Alfalfa meal decomposes very rapidly and generates a great deal of heat quickly. This quality makes alfalfa meal an excellent addition to any compost heap. When you mulch alfalfa 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 alfalfa meal 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 Meal in Your Garden?
Alfalfa meal is an excellent source of minerals. When you add alfalfa meal to your soil, you are adding:
Alfalfa meal’s NPK ratio is 3 – .5 – 3.
Using alfalfa meal increases organic matter in your garden and provides a wealth of nutrients to your plants roots. The high nitrogen content in alfalfa 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.
Alfalfa meal contains a growth hormone (triacontanol) that helps stimulate plant roots’ growth. Furthermore, it increases beneficial microbes in the soil 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 alfalfa 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 meal 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 meal breaks down quickly, heats up soil and accelerates the decomposition of natural organic matter, its results are long-lasting.
Alfalfa 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 meal 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 alfalfa meal is not only edible, it is quite desirable to wild critters. Keep your alfalfa 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 meal is very easy to use, and it is an excellent alternative to other types of organic fertilizer such as blood meal or even compost which may contain too much nitrogen for use by delicate plants.
Additionally, use of alfalfa meal is more acceptable to vegetarian and vegan gardeners than use of products such as blood meal or fish meal.