Post a reply

Alfalfa Mulch

By frankrichards16
August 12, 2015

I have been using alfalfa hay for mulch for the past two years. I love it!

[View the item]

Image
Aug 11, 2015 7:42 PM CST
Name: wayne
memphis (Zone 7b)
Keeper of Poultry Region: Tennessee
I think @Dave has mentioned this on the podcast before...but square bales make it so easy to quickly cover a bed with the correct amount of mulch. Peeling small chunks off the bale makes it so easy to spread just enough around.
Image
Aug 11, 2015 7:51 PM CST
Garden.org Admin
Name: Dave Whitinger
Grapevine, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Garden Research Contributor Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Region: Ukraine Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer Vermiculture The WITWIT Badge
Definitely, square bales couldn't be easier. They peel into perfectly sized thin squares that you can then lay down like a quilt and cover a bed in no time.
Image
Aug 11, 2015 9:43 PM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
I can't get hay delivered to my home, but can purchase it at the feed store. I have to flake the hay and bag it myself and stuff it into my SUV and haul it home.

I've held off using alfalfa hay for mulch because I had been told that I would have a problem with the hay seeding itself throughout the garden. Have you found that to be a problem ?

I am getting really tired of going out and collecting leaves and hauling them back to the garden for mulch. It would be much easier just to get hay.

I have more questions, but let's start here ... Smiling

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Image
Aug 11, 2015 10:48 PM CST
Name: Marilyn
Kentucky (Zone 6a)
Laughter is the Best Medicine!
Region: United States of America Rabbit Keeper Hummingbirder Salvias Charter ATP Member Birds
Echinacea Butterflies Tender Perennials Bee Lover Container Gardener Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
If I used alfalfa hay mulch, I'd have bunches of wild rabbits (that frequent our yard every day/all day) eating it.
Welcome to the Agastache and Salvias Forum!

Hummingbirds are beautiful flying jewels in the garden!


Image
Aug 12, 2015 4:37 AM CST
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan (Zone 5b)

Hydrangeas Peonies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level
I have not had any problems with the hay seeding itself.

Also, I have not noticed any rabbits or deer eating the Alfalfa. I live in the country, so I have many wild animals to deal with.

The alfalfa I purchased last year had a higher percentage of grass so I was able to peal off small squares for easy mulching. This year I have a higher percentage of alfalfa which makes it harder to peal.
Image
Aug 12, 2015 7:10 AM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
Frank ...

Thank you. That has been one of my biggest concerns. Now that I have improved my soil over the years, it seems like all I do is weed and mulch. My high summer temps tend to just eat mulch, so it's not just a once-a-year task.

Actually, I am grateful I can grow weeds. The soil was dead when I started this garden.

I don't have critter problems. The deer are fenced out from any plants I want to protect and I've never had any rabbits. So, I am not worried about that.

My second most important question is whether or not it stays put. I don't get a lot of wind, but if I don't shred the leaves I use, they all end up on the patio instead of in the garden. My guess is that once it has started to decompose, it stays put. Am I correct ?

Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Image
Aug 12, 2015 7:48 AM CST
Name: Frank Richards
Clinton, Michigan (Zone 5b)

Hydrangeas Peonies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level
gets quite windy here. No problem with the mulch.
Image
Aug 12, 2015 8:53 AM CST
Name: mj
Central Florida
Butterflies Region: Florida Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Garden Ideas: Level 2 Plant and/or Seed Trader
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
$4.00 a bale.....You don't even want to know what we pay for Alfalfa or even Alfalfa blend hay. Crying Blinking :sigh:

Those look like they are old bales tho, which might be a good thing. Fresh Green Alfalfa bales might make the nitrogen in the soil go crazy.
God gave us wings. He just called them horses
Image
Aug 12, 2015 10:38 AM CST
Name: Linda Williams
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Organic Gardener Bookworm Enjoys or suffers hot summers Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs
Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Forum moderator Purslane Hummingbirder
Even if a few alfalfa plants come up, that shouldn't be so bad, they don't look so bad. Just remove them if you'd prefer...myself, I'd just say cool, I'll let them grow a while, then take advantage of the extra alfalfa mulch! I've grown some on purpose, BTW!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Image
Aug 12, 2015 10:43 AM CST
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Region: Ukraine Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Dog Lover
Is alfalfa grown in the same fields as wheat or next to them & harvested at the same time?
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others. ~~ Sharon Brown
Image
Aug 12, 2015 11:40 AM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
Thank you Frank and Linda.

I need to make a change in how I do things. This older body I am living in just isn't up to the same kind of labor I was more than willing to do when I started the garden.

The people the owned the feed store before the people who own it now used to call me to come down and let me sweep out all of the alfalfa dust that had fallen through the slats of the pallets they had in the alfalfa shed before they filled it up with a new load. Sometimes the timing was inconvenient, but I considered it a blessing and was ready to drop everything and go clean out that shed any time they called.

The new owners just are not open to that kind of thing.

I can't create enough compost to feed my soil or buy mulch up here, so I have to go out and get the material I need for the garden. Even tho' I go out quite often, that work is getting harder as the years go by, but it has been worth it because my soil is so much better.

Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Image
Aug 14, 2015 5:38 AM CST
Name: Neal Linville
Winchester, KY (Zone 6a)
Bulbs Charter ATP Member Cottage Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Irises Roses
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 2
Lyn, I feel ya there speaking of living in an older body. When I was younger I was lazy about some tasks that my body could perform easily, now I don't mind the tasks and body does't cooperate, LOL.

For a few years I've had a great supply of free mulch that local roadside tree trimmers had dropped off, but that supply has all been used or completely decomposed (the composted piles are now a veggie garden), and I've been wondering what my next move should be. I certainly can't afford commercial mulch for my big beds, so I'm really happy to see this article! I've been using alfalfa pellets this year and feel like they've made a positive impact, so it stands to reason alfalfa mulch would be a really healthy mulch. I haven't priced it from the feed store yet, but this being horse country I think it should be plentiful and readily available.

Frank, thanks for sharing this great idea!
"...and don't think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It's quiet, but the roots are down there riotous." Rumi
Image
Aug 14, 2015 9:18 AM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
Neal ... thanks for the confirmation.

I cannot create enough compost or mulch anywhere on my property for the whole garden .. Sighing! To get the wood chips that you had dropped off, I have to go to the utility company's chipping pile and bag the chips up and haul them home and then haul them up to the garden levels.

The leaf mulch isn't holding up through the season since the beginning of the drought .... so, I, too, was delighted to see Frank's article. Will power only goes so far and I don't give up easily.

I price alfalfa hay at the feed store and they are charging $20.00 a bale. YIKES ! So, I am going to have to use straw, which is $11.00 a bale. The feed store is in town, so I don't have an hour on the road to get leaves from a friend's property.

Smoke is heavy today, so I'll get a few minutes outside at a time today. No, multitasking. I will go get some straw tomorrow and start re-mulching the garden.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Image
Aug 14, 2015 4:19 PM CST
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
Lyn, I use straw as mulch all over my garden and it works just fine. Alfalfa here is very, very expensive and the straw is much cheaper. But there are no square bales at the feed store. They have these rectangular bales that I have always bought.
Image
Aug 14, 2015 6:00 PM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
Thank you, Rita.

You live in a climate where you get summer rains. No summer rains here, so I am thinking I'll have to water it down periodically so that it will eventually decompose.

You are right. Alfalfa is too costly for my budget.

Since my leaf mulch has already decomposed and I have about two more months of high temps, I'll know if straw will serve to hold the moisture in the soil.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Image
Aug 14, 2015 6:11 PM CST
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
Charter ATP Member Seed Starter Tomato Heads I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Vegetable Grower Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level Butterflies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Roses Photo Contest Winner: 2016
The straw does decompose but not that all fire quickly. I put it on the veggies in the early spring and it stays overwinter. Some is still there the following spring and that I remove from any tomato beds before I put on compost and new straw mulch. I have never used Alfalfa hay on my garden.
Image
Aug 14, 2015 6:48 PM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
Good to know, Rita. Thanks.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Avatar for clangfor
Aug 15, 2015 9:46 AM CST

Where I live now, the entire neighborhood puts out giant bags of pine straw and leaves at the curb for leaf and limb city service to pick up. I don't have a truck, but I drive around the neighborhood every month or so to pick up leaves, pine straw and grass clippings. Most people will thank you for hauling them away! I have also bought cheap straw and hay and put it through my old leaf chopper. It comes out the finest softest mulch that can be applied very close to even the smallest plants. I liked the way it looked because it reflected light better than dark mulches. I recommend everyone looking around their neighborhoods before BUYING any type of mulch. And I use lots of it throughout the year. I also put large leaves in my Labrador's play area in the backyard where grass doesn't grow well. After she runs through the leaves 100 times chasing frisbees and balls, they are a very fine mulch size.
Image
Aug 15, 2015 10:20 AM CST
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Level 1
@clangfor ...

I live in the mountains. I've had to go out to friend's place to get my leaves for mulch or the the utility company's chipping pile for mulch material. There are no curbs or places to just pick up mulch material. Nor can you buy it up here.

It takes me 10 trips to bring back enough material to shred for my garden. I am getting a little long in years to do that kind of work. I love Frank's article about using hay/straw because it will be easier to get materials I need.

I tip my hat to you. to Frank.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Image
Aug 16, 2015 5:57 AM CST
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
Dances with Dirt
Butterflies Cottage Gardener Birds Vegetable Grower Herbs Frugal Gardener
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Organic Gardener Composter Bee Lover Garden Procrastinator Frogs and Toads
I live in farm country where hay fields are plentiful and while fresh alfalfa is pricy you may be able to find old hay at a very reasonable price . Old hay looses it's nutritional value fast and can sometimes be purchased for the price of labor to haul it out of the barn to make space for this years crop.

I have a couple small goats and get my neighbors leftover hay for $2 a bale , He delivers it to my barn .
This life has many choices
Eternity, only two.

You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.
  • Started by: wayne
  • Replies: 26, views: 3,526
Member Login:

( No account? Join now! )

Today's site banner is by Murky and is called "Waterlily"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.