Mulch is an organic or inorganic material placed on top of the ground to help maintain moisture in the ground by protecting from excessive heat. In addition to this, mulch is commonly used to cut down on unwanted weeds.
Alfalfa hay is a good mulching material because it’s usually cut before it can put out seeds. Used as mulch, alfalfa is high in nitrogen and long lasting. Alfalfa is also great for mulching because of the diverse range of minerals and micro elements readily available once decomposed.
Good Source of Minerals
Alfalfa is a good source of nitrogen, along with several other minerals including:
Builds Organic Matter
- Alfalfa builds organic matter in your soil providing nutrients to plant roots. Its high nitrogen content helps other organic material to decompose. Organic matter also helps to prevent compaction, acts like a sponge and holds moisture in the soil, improves soil structure, and helps to prevent erosion.
- The microorganisms in your soil love alfalfa because of the protein, amino acids, fiber and sugars in its stalk – items they need to thrive. Alfalfa hay has an almost perfect balance of carbon to nitrogen (24:1) which soil organisms require.
- Alfalfa contains triacontanol, a hormone which stimulates the growth of plant roots, enhances photosynthesis, and increases beneficial microbes which help to suppress many soil-borne diseases.
- Alfalfa actually takes nitrogen from the air and holds it as nodules on its roots, a process called “nitrogen fixing”. This nitrogen becomes available in the soil for other plants to use when the alfalfa plant is cut down and its roots are left in the soil, or when the plant is turned into the soil.
- When added to your compost pile, alfalfa acts as a stimulator. It decomposes rapidly, creating heat which helps the rest of your compost to decompose. And your finished compost will have higher nutrient levels when alfalfa is used. Higher nutrient levels in your compost and soil means more nutrient-dense produce in your garden.
Provides Drought Resistance
- Because of alfalfa’s sponge-like ability to absorb and hold moisture, it helps plants grown in that soil to be more resistant to periods of low rain.
Is a Dynamic Accumulator
- Alfalfa roots reach down into the sub-soil up to 2.5m, bringing valuable hard-to-reach nutrients up to the soil surface where they are stored in the leaves of the plant. Using the cut alfalfa in your garden and compost adds these nutrients to the upper layers of your soil where other garden plants can use them. Alfalfa is particularly good at bringing iron to the surface, a micro-nutrient needed for chlorophyll synthesis.
Is a Great Cover Crop
- Leaving garden beds bare in the winter exposes them to the harsh elements of weather. They should always be mulched, or a cover crop should be planted. Cover crops are generally planted in the autumn and then dug into the soil in the spring to improve soil. The crop may also be cut down at the soil level and used as a mulch, rather than digging it in.
How to useMulch
- Apply mulch to the top layer of the soil 1-3 cm thick.
- Can gently mix in the first 1-3cm of soil.
- Mulch can be applied through the year however, it is recommended in spring and in summer due to its high, slow release nitrogen content.
- We recommend you significantly cut down/completely stop your alfalfa mulch in flower to discourage excessive nitrogen levels in your soil.
- Other recommended products to top dress here.
- Follow with a normal watering. Always use dechlorinated water for organics.
5L (approx. 0.8kg)
- Avoid applying a mulch layer too thick, as this can lead to harboring pests.
- In general avoid applying too much mulch of any type too close to the plant’s stem, as it may cause rot on the stem. This will result in damage to the plant stem, allowing for pests to quickly finish off your vulnerable plant.
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