Why alfalfa tea works better than alfalfa?
Both U. of Mass. and University of Kentucky documented chlorosis (yellowing) of plants with alfalfa pellets. I had the same problem putting alfalfa meal on top of my heavy clay, it gunk up and block oxygen from above, and roses became yellowish.
I posted the nutritional profile of alfalfa in the English Roses Forum under "Why alfalfa tea is better than alfalfa pellets?" Alfalfa is high in calcium, protein and sugar.
I called my feed store to ask for prices. They sell gypsum (calcium sulfate) to break up clay 40 lbs. for $6.99. They sell alfalfa pellets 50 lbs. for $17.99
I asked my feed store if the pellets are small-size for rabbits, or large size for horses. The guy told me "don't feed that to rabbits, because it's high in sugar." I asked, "Did they put sugar in there?". He said, "No, it's 100% alfalfa, but alfalfa is naturally high in sugar."
In my microbiology class, we fed sugar to yeast ... they go beserk. Fungi thrive with added sugar. I tested alfalfa meal pH in red-cabbage juice, and it's slightly more pink than MiracleGro potting soil (green bag, at pH 6.5). In soil chemistry, fungi thrives in neutral and slightly acidic MOIST medium.
That explains why when I topped my pots with alfalfa meal and had the WORST black spots on Comte de Chambord and my mini-roses. Crimson Glory also broke out in mildew when it was in a pot, topped with alfalfa meal.
Now they are in the ground, 100% clean despite our humid weather ... no alfalfa meal on top, just my alkaline clay (pH 7.7). Alfalfa meal is quite sticky, and stays wet longer than soil, best for fungal growth.
Few years ago I put horse manure in the garage, no fungal growth whatsoever, that stuff is very alkaline (dark blue in red-cabbage juice) ... the stable in late fall put lime to deodorize, plus that year they used dry recycled wood chips (has mold-retardant). Then I mixed peat moss and afalfa meal into the horse manure, put them in the garage, and got whitish fungal growth on top.
Horse manure varies. This year they use straw and wood shavings, which retains moisture longer. I saw a bunch of mushrooms in the manure/bedding pile, and tested its pH: slightly pink, or acidic in red-cabbage juice. Mulched 7 of my roses with that: They broke out in diseases: rust for the 1st time, rampant black spots.
My other roses NOT mulched with the new horse manure are still clean. What I learned from microbiology class holds true: Keep the surface dry and alkaline, to discourage fungal germination.
Here is a link that might be useful: Why alfalfa tea works better than alfafa?
This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sun, Sep 1, 13 at 22:23