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Alfalfa Redux


Below is a compendium of articles previously sent out on iris-l on
alfalfa. the first two from Carolyn Schaffner, the last by Nell
Lancaster. maybe one of these days I'll get around to combining them and
asking Tom to put them up on his iris site. Til then it is what has
passed on the list about alfalfa that I could find in my archives.

John Jones

----------


Here is a little article that I wrote about alfalfa a couple of months
ago.

Hope it helps.  Dennis Stoneburner has a receipe for tea (sans crumpets
for
now, Dennis!!)

        Alfalfa as a beneficial soil additive has many growers of iris
and
daylilies excited!  This natural product seems to have marvelous
properties
 and no offensive ones.
        It seems that in 1975, Dr. Stanley K Ries of Michigan State
University
 established that alfalfa increased yields of certain plants.  He
discovered
 that TRIACONTANOL, contained in the leaves of alfalfa, is an extremely
 powerful plant growth stimulant.  Alfalfa is also beneficial for soil
organisms.   It has a very high vitamin A content, plus thiamine,
riboflavin,
 pantothenic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, choline, proline, bentaine and
folic
 acid, plus nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, calcium, magnesium and
other
 valuable minerals.  Also included are sugars, starches, proteins and
fiber,
 plus co-enzymes and 16 amino acids. 
        Alfalfa is good for people, too.  The North Buffalo Co-op on
Main Street
 in Buffalo near UBUs south campus has a brisk trade in loose leaved
alfalfa
 
 for teas at $8.00/lb.
        Anecdotal evidence that alfalfa works in the garden comes from
 commercial growers as well as home gardeners.  One says he has been
using
alfalfa pellets for five years.  At first he tried them in one bed. 
That bed
 was outstanding, and so he used them on all beds ever since.
        Other growers prefer to pass the pellets through the horse prior
to use
.
        Some gardeners put a handful, or even a cupful in the soil in
the hole
while planting individual specimens. The pellets can be sprinkled over
the top
 of the soil around established plantings and can be left to dissolve --
they
 quickly turn into a mush -- or dug into the soil around the plants. 
Alfalfa
 is not relished by squirrels and because it quickly melds into the
soil, does
 not seem to attract other varmits. Some rose and orchid growers make an
alfalfa RteaS and spray the liquid directly on their plants as a foliar
 nutrient. 
        Alfalfa pellets are available from Agway stores or wherever
cattle and
 horse feed is sold.  Agway in East Aurora sells a 50 pound bag for
$8.49.
  The price in 1988 in another part of the country was $6.40 for 50
pounds.
 
 
        Alfalfa pellets are a real RCounty-MouseS miracle substance.
Farmers
 have been growing alfalfa to improve soil for a long time.  Now itUs 
available and has been proven to be successful for home gardeners, too.

SCHAFFCM@SNYBUFAA.CS.SNYBUF.EDU
-------------

It seems that in 1975, Dr. Stanley K Ries of Michigan State University 
established that alfalfa increased yields of certain plants.  He
discovered
CONTANOL, contained in the leaves of alfalfa, is an extremely
 powerful plant growth stimulant.  Alfalfa is also beneficial for soil
organisms.   It has a very high vitamin A content, plus thiamine,
riboflavin,
 pantothenic acid, niacin, pyridoxine, choline, proline, bentaine and
folic
 acid, plus nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, calcium, magnesium and
other
 valuable minerals.  Also included are sugars, starches, proteins and
fiber,
 plus co-enzymes and 16 amino acids. 
for teas at $8.00/lb.
        Anecdotal evidence that alfalfa works in the garden comes from
commercial growers as well as home gardeners.  One says he has been
using
 alfalfa pellets for five years.  At first he tried them in one bed. 
That bed
 was outstanding, and so he used them on all beds ever since.
        Other growers prefer to pass the pellets through the horse prior
to use.
        Some gardeners put a handful, or even a cupful in the soil in
the hole

 while planting individual specimens. The pellets can be sprinkled over
the
 top of the soil around established plantings and can be left to
dissolve --
 they quickly turn into a mush -- or dug into the soil around the
plants.
  Alfalfa is not relished by squirrels and because it quickly melds into
the
 soil, does not seem to attract other varmits. Some rose and orchid
growers
 make an alfalfa RteaS and spray the liquid directly on their plants as
a
 foliar nutrient. 
        Alfalfa pellets are available from Agway stores or wherever
cattle and
 horse feed is sold.  Agway in East Aurora sells a 50 pound bag for
$8.49.
  The price in 1988 in another part of the country was $6.40 for 50
pounds. 
        Alfalfa pellets are a real RCounty-MouseS miracle substance.
Farmers
 have been growing alfalfa to improve soil for a long time.  Now itUs
available and has been proven to be successful for home gardeners, too.
        The technical information in this article comes from an article
by Doris
 Simpson in The Daylily Journal, Fall, 1988.

SCHAFFCM@SNYBUFAA.CS.SNYBUF.EDU
-------------

Alfalfa's good stuff, but people have grown great irises for decades
without it.  It's not a miracle substance, just one of many possible
organic
soil amendents.

Alfalfa meal has a significant amount of nitrogen, about 5-1-4 for an
NPK
rating. The meal breaks down a lot more quickly than the pellets or
flakes,
but since the latter are pure extruded alfalfa and the meal is ground
alfalfa,
can't imagine the analysis is much different. The real value of alfalfa,
though, is in the growth stimulant (contanol [sp?]) and many trace
minerals and
vitamins it contains. As with any other crop, a the level of those
varies with
the soil in which the alfalfa was grown.

Maybe because the pellets don't break down as quickly as the meal, their
high-nitro nature isn't a bad thing, but if the meal is being used as a
fertilizer for irises it would seem best to mix it with other
high-phosphorus
and -potassium ingredients to get to the desired 5-10-5 NPK ratio.

I'd prefer to use alfalfa meal, but can only get the pellets locally.  I
just
can't stand the look of them decomposing on top of the beds (like fat
green
worms), so I use them in the hot compost piles, and add the compost to
planting
beds and holes and as a mulch for mulch-loving plants.

Happy planting!

 Nell Lancaster, Lexington, VA   75500.2521@compuserve.com    USDA zone
6b
-- 

---

John                     | "There be dragons here"
                         |  Annotation used by ancient cartographers
                         |  to indicate the edge of the known world.

John Jones, jijones@ix.netcom.com
Fremont CA, USDA zone 8/9 (coastal, bay) 
Max high 95F/35C, Min Low 28F/-2C average 10 days each
Heavy clay base for my raised beds.






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