Fertilizer is one of the most important things to maintain health and promote the growth of your plants either ion the garden or in the yard. However, many people are slowly moving from using chemical fertilizers to organic ones.
That is mainly because it helps save the environment by minimizing the chemical release into the soil. Organic fertilizers are also good for the plant because they do not kill any helpful organisms and bacteria in the soil.
If you are thinking about changing from chemical fertilizers to organic fertilizers, you should try alfalfa meal fertilizer.
What Is Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer?
This is a type of fertilizer that people make by fermenting the adult parts and seeds of the alfalfa plant. Alfalfa, also known as Medicago sativa, is a flowering legume from the pea family. It is also an essential forage crop.
The alfalfa plant takes in nitrogen from the air, then holds it on its roots as nodules, in a process known as nitrogen-fixing.
People dehydrate it and grind it into a meal, creating an organic fertilizer that is an effective and fast coil conditioner. It is light and airy and has an earthy, wholesome smell, unlike many chemical fertilizers. It is a great option if you want to boost your blooming plants.
The minerals it contains helps boost the nutrients in the soil, which helps perennials and flowering shrubs like roses bloom faster and maintain their blooms for longer. It also helps improve your soil condition and increase your yield.
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How Does Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer Help The Plants?
Alfalfa has an NPK ratio of 3:5:3, although the levels of each component could differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Therefore adding it to your garden boosts the levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Some other elements that it helps add to your soil include:
Adding alfalfa helps boost the level of organic matter in your garden, and its high nitrogen content helps other organic matter in the soil to decompose. In addition, the added organic matter in the soil helps prevent soil compaction and helps maintain moisture in your garden.
That ensures that there is enough airflow in the soil for your plants and makes them more resistant to hot climates. More organic matter also helps better the structure of your soil, which discourages erosion.
Since alfalfa meal contains fibers, natural sugars, protein, and amino acids, it acts as a good feed for the beneficial organisms in your soil. In turn, those microorganisms help break up the feed to produce necessary nutrients for the plants and aerate the soil.
Alfalfa meal has triacontanol, which is a growth hormone. That helps stimulate the root growth of your plants and makes them grow thicker and larger. It also helps promote photosynthesis and increase helpful soil microbes. Adding alfalfa meal fertilizer to your soil could also help minimize nematodes.
Nematodes are worms that attack your plants, causing them to have poor growth or even die. Some of the most common types are root-knot nematodes, which are known for attacking tomato plants, and cyst nematodes, known for attacking carrots.
When you mix alfalfa meal fertilizer with some wood chips, it could help change even the most clay-like soil into the well-drained perfect planting soil. That may take a few years, but with consistent application of that mixture, you can achieve perfect, dark, and fertile soil anywhere.
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How To Use Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer
One of the main benefits of using alfalfa meal fertilizer is its ease of use. Start application in early spring, when the weather starts to warm up, as that is the period where plants experience the most growth.
If you have plants that only bloom once annually, you do not need to add more alfalfa meal. However, if your plants bloom for a longer period, reapply the meal after six weeks.
When using alfalfa meal fertilizer, the first and most important thing is knowing how much to use for your garden. Most of the time, people use too little, which might not give them the best results.
If you want a light application of the fertilizer, apply 12 pounds (36 cups) in every 1000 square feet of your garden. You can also use another measuring method where you use a pound of the meal in every 20 inches foot row.
For normal application, use 25 pounds in every 1000 square feet. If you are applying for individual plants, apply 1/3 of a cup for every plant or 2 pounds in every 20-inch foot row. In heavy application, use 50 pounds of the meal in every 1000 square feet of the garden.
There are a few ways you can use alfalfa meal fertilizer in your garden:
As a soil amendment
This is one of the most basic ways that people use alfalfa meal fertilizer. Simply broadcast the pellets of the meal on the soil, and you can leave it like that, or mix or till it into the soil.
After adding the alfalfa meal fertilizer, water your plants, as usual, to help work the fertilizer into the soil. This is a good way to increase both the organic matter and nitrogen content in your soil.
If you are using it as a soil amendment or for top dressing, use it two times in the growing season and do not overuse it. You can also spread alfalfa meal pellets at the base of individual plants or shrubs.
Making alfalfa tea
This is another method to use, which gives faster results than spreading it on the soil. It involves soaking the alfalfa meal in water. To make the tea, mix a cup of alfalfa meal into a 5-gallon bucket, then fill it with water.
Let that mixture sit for around 4-6 days and stir it daily. That gives you a thick tea that you can apply under your plants and flowers and over the soil. The longer you brew the tea, the better it gets and the stronger the smell gets.
You can also use alfalfa meal when brewing compost teas using air pumps. It serves as a microbial food, which provides nutrients to the microbes in the compost you want to replicate.
As a compost activator
When you add alfalfa meal into your compost pile, it provides proteins and nitrogen that help speed up the composting process. After adding the meal, you will notice that your pile heats up faster. This is a good way to revive your stalled compost pile or reactivate an old pile.
Alfalfa meal is an alkaline product, so you should not use it on plants that love an acidic growing environment.
When handling alfalfa meal fertilizer, ensure that you have a mask and face mask on because it is very powdery.
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How Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer Works
Alfalfa meal fertilizer works by utilizing micro-bacteria in breaking down elements in your garden soil, which helps produce heat. That heat helps accelerate the decomposition of trace minerals contained in the alfalfa meal.
Rhizobacteria, which is present in the meal, continue to process nutrients contained in the meal, making them more available for your plants to use.
Not only does alfalfa meal help your compost pile decompose faster, but it also increases its nutritional value.
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Benefits Of Using Alfalfa Meal
Apart from all the benefits disused above, there are some more benefits you get when using alfalfa meal that you don’t get when using other types of fertilizers.
Where Can You Get Alfalfa Meal Fertilizer?
You can get alfalfa feed in a lot of places, including garden centers and online. However, the best place to get it is in an animal feed store. Not only do they have the best quality, but you also get the best deal on prices, and you can also buy the largest bags of the feed.
Anytime when using alfalfa meal, pour out only the amount you will use at that time. If you have any leftover meal, pour it into a secure metal container or an air-tight plastic container for storage.
That is because rats love it, and the smell could attract them. The metal and plastic are also hard for the mice and rats to chew through.