Is Alfalfa ...

Branching Out

Deeply Rooted
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Find that interesting as very little (I know of none) is GMO alfalfa here. Too expensive plus most growers want some grass mix in their alfalfa-larger market.
I am following this thread with interest as I bought a small sack of alfalfa seeds recently from OSC, and will be growing it for the first time. While OSC indicated that the seeds are non-GMO it would appear that alfalfa readily cross-pollinates and could easily become contaminated-- but here in the suburbs I would be very surprised if anyone else was growing alfalfa, making a cross unlikely. My neighbours and I are working on a project to restore a very steep slope that is eroding and becoming a noxious weed haven. The hope is that planting a few rows of alfalfa across the hill might help to stabilize the bank, while improving the soil at the same time. From what I have read the roots of alfalfa can go down 5' deep. It would be great if it thrives, so we could cut it for home grown mulch too.
 

flowerbug

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I am following this thread with interest as I bought a small sack of alfalfa seeds recently from OSC, and will be growing it for the first time. While OSC indicated that the seeds are non-GMO it would appear that alfalfa readily cross-pollinates and could easily become contaminated-- but here in the suburbs I would be very surprised if anyone else was growing alfalfa, making a cross unlikely. My neighbours and I are working on a project to restore a very steep slope that is eroding and becoming a noxious weed haven. The hope is that planting a few rows of alfalfa across the hill might help to stabilize the bank, while improving the soil at the same time. From what I have read the roots of alfalfa can go down 5' deep. It would be great if it thrives, so we could cut it for home grown mulch too.

it may be too tall growing to help much and also it is not very dense for roots. if you can get a blend of grasses to grow that would likely help a lot more (and also be quicker).

from experience here, you don't want trees or bushes to grow on a slope that might erode because the shade from the taller plant keeps the grasses and other more helpful plants from doing well and so the slope will erode even faster.

yes, the roots can go down quite a ways (here they are likely limited by the groundwater table more than anything else).

the other plants i would suggest to include in the mix for a slope would be things like the smaller clovers and thymes. those seem to do well about anyplace we put them other than the really low spots that puddle too often.

low growing plants and some semi-regular cutting back so that things are not shading out the plants you do want to grow.
 
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AMKuska

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I am following this thread with interest as I bought a small sack of alfalfa seeds recently from OSC, and will be growing it for the first time. While OSC indicated that the seeds are non-GMO it would appear that alfalfa readily cross-pollinates and could easily become contaminated-- but here in the suburbs I would be very surprised if anyone else was growing alfalfa, making a cross unlikely. My neighbours and I are working on a project to restore a very steep slope that is eroding and becoming a noxious weed haven. The hope is that planting a few rows of alfalfa across the hill might help to stabilize the bank, while improving the soil at the same time. From what I have read the roots of alfalfa can go down 5' deep. It would be great if it thrives, so we could cut it for home grown mulch too.
I'd love to hear more about this project.
 

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if you can get a blend of grasses to grow that would likely help a lot more (and also be quicker).

from experience here, you don't want trees or bushes to grow on a slope that might erode because the shade from the taller plant keeps the grasses and other more helpful plants from doing well and so the slope will erode even faster.

yes, the roots can go down quite a ways (here they are likely limited by the groundwater table more than anything else).

the other plants i would suggest to include in the mix for a slope would be things like the smaller clovers and thymes. those seem to do well about anyplace we put them other than the really low spots that puddle too often.

low growing plants and some semi-regular cutting back so that things are not shading out the plants you do want to grow.
These are such great suggestions-- thank you Flowerbug! From what you describe a mix sounds like the way to go. If we get another hard frost I might just try 'frost seeding' small pinches of alfalfa, crimson clover, and winter rye on a patch that I cleared and covered in compost in the fall. Then once things warm up I could add some buckwheat and millet to the mix. I had not considered woody herbs like thyme, yet they would likely thrive in this hot, dry location. Thyme pops up readily in cracks in the sidewalk here, so if I am careful I may be able to lift a few for transplanting. I have thyme seeds too, but they are slow growers at the beginning so I would prefer transplants. Some flowers would be a plus too, as the homeowners walk past this slope as they enter and exit their home. Tithonia and zinnias were incredibly heat and drought tolerant for us last summer, so we may sow a few of those as well.
 

ducks4you

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I hate it when good hay or good straw gets dumped into a plot like compost.
I am a Horse owner FIRST, gardener Second.
Any kind of good hay that got rained on is perfectly suitable to enrich your soil.
Leave the rest for we livestock owners.
Thank you.
Rant over.
 

seedcorn

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I hate it when good hay or good straw gets dumped into a plot like compost.
I am a Horse owner FIRST, gardener Second.
Any kind of good hay that got rained on is perfectly suitable to enrich your soil.
Leave the rest for we livestock owners.
Thank you.
Rant over.
I use 8 good, clean bales of straw every year to mulch my garden. Many housewives use good straw as decorations. Farmer has to make money. Hay prices don’t vary much. Hay prices rise, more ground dedicated to hay. Prices go down, hay becomes corn ground. So price per bale stays relatively same price. Hay is higher due to inflation-nothing to do with supply/demand.
 

ducks4you

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Hay prices are HIGH. I got a Great deal in 2022, $7/bale for the very best alfalfa hay I have Ever bought, heavy, stems are small and each flake rains down leaves, so very nutritious, and Yes, Virginia, I count flakes, 7 flakes/2x/day. The bales run about 65 pounds/each.
I agree that buying straw bales from your neighbors after Halloween is a great idea. Local place sold out in mid October with straw at $5/bale.
For livestock it has to be cured right and kept dry.
For gardening...whatever. People that grow vegetables in straw bales add fertilizer and water so that the insides will rot. Mine get piled up after soiling, then they break down with horse manure. In 2 years the soil is very rich.
 

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