Here are a few tips on how to use alfalfa meal in your garden to improve the quality of your soil:
1. High Mineral Content
A key benefit of alfalfa is the fact that it is a strong source of not just nitrogen, but a host of other minerals, including:
Depending on the source, the N-P-K ratio known for alfalfa is roughly 3-1-3.
2. Creation Of Organic Matter
The presence of alfalfa leads to the development of organic matter in the soil that brings nutrients directly to plant roots. The impressive nitrogen content assists in the decomposition of other organic material as well. The presence of organic matter works to limit compaction, offers sponge-like properties that keep moisture trapped in the soil, boosts the soil’s structure, and limits erosion.
3. Nourishes Key Microorganisms
Alfalfa is extremely beneficial to soil’s microorganisms because it contains lots of protein, fiber, sugars, and amino acids in the stalk. These are all things necessary for organisms to thrive. Alfalfa offers a near-perfect balance of nitrogen to carbon, something organisms in soil need.
4. Growth Stimulation
Because it contains the hormone triacontanol, alfalfa helps boost plant root growth, aids in photosynthesis, and spurs the development of microbes that can stave off diseases in the soil.
5. Nitrogen Fixing
Alfalfa is able to grab nitrogen from the air and preserve it on its own roots, something known as “nitrogen fixing.” Then, the nitrogen is kept available for other plants in the soil to utilize when the alfalfa itself is cut, and the roots are left to remain, or alternatively, when the plant is turned back into the ground.
6. Jump-Starts Compost
Adding alfalfa to a compost pile is like having a jump start to the process. Alfalfa quickly decomposes, which generates heat capable of hastening the composting of other matter. The resulting compost will be nutrient-dense because alfalfa was part of it. When compost offers greater nutrient levels, your garden soil will yield nutrient-dense produce as well.
7. Keeps Nematodes In Check
Recent research suggests that alfalfa pellets are able to lower the incidence of certain nematode infestations on tomato plants and other nematode infestations on carrot plants. What’s more, the yields for both types of plants were greater than those seen in control plants.
8. Generates Drought-Resistant Specimens
Given the sponge-like qualities of alfalfa, and its ability to retain moisture, plants grown in soil containing it are much better able to withstand low-rain periods.