Alfalfa tea question

greenhavenrdgardenMarch 11, 2012

Hi all! I bought a 50lb bag of alfalfa pellets. I am planning on making the tea. I have read numerous threads and am still confused about wether or not I should add Epsom salts and/or fish emulsion. Can someone explain the reason for the extra ingredients. I don't mind adding them I just want to know why.

Also, I gather that the time to use the tea is when you would normally fertilize. My problem is that this is my 1st spring with a garden and I don't know when to fertilize in my zone 6 garden. It's been unusually warm here, everything is growing, buds are on most of my clematis and the weather has it in the 60-70s next week. Should I use some soon or wait.

Finally, if I make large batches, how long can I store any leftovers for using to spray on the leaves?

Thanks in advance for any help. I'm a complete newbie and kind of lost even after searching through threads!!

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gardengal48

Understand that alfalfa tea, Epsom salts and fish emulsion all supply plant nutrients (i.e., they are fertilizers). Whether you need them singly or in combination depends a great deal on your existing soil conditions and how well your plants are growing. As an example, a garden with good soil conditions and one that receives liberal and frequent doses of a good organic mulch may never require ANY supplemental fertilization.

I've have never found any documentation other than anecdotal reports that Epsom salts supplies anything of significant merit (very few garden soils are magnesium deficient) so that's one I'd skip. The alfalfa tea is good organic source of nitrogen and also contains a natural growth hormone that can encourage additional stem development -- it can't hurt if applied in moderation. I used to raise rabbits and used their manure - partially digested alfalfa - in much the same manner to great effect. But it is not a product you should continue to apply throughout the season, whereas you could certainly do so with the fish emulsion or any other multipurpose liquid fertilizer.

Typically, the recommendation is to fertilize clems at the same time you prune them which is right about now :-)

FWIW, alfalfa tea will ferment and become anaerobic if made in large batches and stored and it has minimal effect as a foliar spray. Make what you need now as a soil drench and wait to make up more until you need it. You can also mash up the alfalfa pellets and apply them dorectly to the soil in spring or at planting time. Alfalfa begins to decompose very quickly and can generate a lot of heat when it does so be sure to keep the pellets away from tender roots. This is not a concern with the tea.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2012 at 7:17PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I'm lazy, I just toss the pellets at my plants. :D

I smell enough alfalfa "tea" cleaning out my horses water trough. She likes to dunk her hay....

    Bookmark   March 12, 2012 at 9:16PM
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