Alfalfa Tea

Discussion in 'Growing Organic Marijuana' started by heavyengineerng, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. So I'd like to make some of this alfalfa tea, seems pretty easy. 5 gal bucket with 5 gals of good clean water and a cup of alfalfa meal for a few days/week. questions: can i put the meal in a nylon stocking or do i have to leave it loose and strain it? ive seen application rates of the tea from undiluted to 1 cup/gal. whats the best? i can cook this up a week at a time if need be. this will be for my current grow ~month into 12/12.


    Alfalfa Meal & Tea - Natural Organic Home Garden Health Howard Garrett Dirt Doctor
  2. You can leave the alfalfa meal loose in the bucket and strain it out before using.....or you can just pour it onto your soil. You can also use the meal as worm food, in your compost, or in your recycled soil.

    I wouldn't use it undiluted, I'd use 1/4-1/2 cup per gallon to start with. Depending on how long you let it ferment, will determine the strength. Alfalfa meal also has Triacontanol a plant growth hormone/stimulator. Good stuff all the way around.

  3. If I'm interpreting chunk's response correctly I'd second something he's said and add to it. I'd put 1 cup in 1 gal of water. It won't burn a single thing and your plants will use what it needs. You can't overdo it with alfalfa as an ammendment. At least I have yet to find its limits.

    Like the man said, "good stuff all the way around".
  4. thanks guys. does the recipe scale linearly? could i do 1/2 cup in 2.5 gal? whats the product of choice to strain the tea? is there a painters strainer at home depot or something? any special consideration to cleaning the 5 gal bucket or is soap and water gonna do it?
  5. IMO, which is only speculation with a little bit of knowledge backing it up, 1 cup per gallon is not an overuse of alfalfa meal or fresh alfalfa in a tea. The amount of N per pound is relatively low and as such it won't be so strong to harm the plants. Then there is the question, is the N extracted from an alfalfa nutrient tea in a form that is available for plant uptake? IDK the answer to that without digging for information. N is available to a plant in many different forms and those that present the most risk to burning a plant are those N sources derived from ammonia or urea. The nitrate forms of N present less risk but do require microbe activity and the full nitrification process to make it plant available. I think the bigger question might be; is the alfalfa better used as a soil amendment versus a tea drench? With the former it absolutely demands an active microbial population in the soil. With the latter it's perhaps questionable because of the chemical form of N that would be extracted.

    If you are using this tea as a soil drench there is no need to filter it. Stir it up, let it settle, pour off, drench. If using as a foliar spray then a strain is definitely in order. I personally use a baster bulb and nylon hosiery to filter off perhaps 4 ounces of liquid and then spray undiluted. Whatever remains I scoop it out and apply it directly to the top of the soil and scratch it in. The paint strainers work great but they clog easily. If you buy the disposable paper ones they'll fall apart on you pretty quick. Those aren't worth the effort or money IMO.

    Making a tea as you described doesn't scream for an abundance of caution to clean the vessels used to make it. A 1:6 ratio of bleach:water will kill everything off. Cleanliness is of absolute importance but you are not introducing any bacteria that can't be handled with a little bleach and warm, soapy water. That'll be good enough.

    Green ‘em up! Do it man!
  6. #6 heavyengineerng, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2011
    i like warnings. the last link says "Research has shown that using more is not better. At recommended rates alfalfa works wonders on roses but it can be overused causing adverse effects."

    if i had to guess, its not the nitrogen that the warning is concerned with. maybe the hormone?

    im glad to know there is a bit of overhead in how this is prepared so i tossed a cup in 4 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket and covered it up. burp it daily?
  7. Why not go to a brewers supply and get an air lock? Then you don't have to worry about burping it, and you could even go away on vacation and the bucket wouldn't explode from built up gas=)

    I make mead and cyser, air locks kick ass =)

  8. I have seen the same warnings AFA roses and heed them. I think it's the hormone also, because in one mix, it had using a lesser amount of alfalfa meal than soybean meal, even though the soybean meal had ~3-4x the N of the alfalfa.

    I use the queen size trouser socks from the dollar store and make tea bags with them. Alfalfa meal, kelp meal and EWC, a handful or 2 of each. I only did the loose ingredients once.:rolleyes:

    Bubble for a few days, add ~3tbl of molasses, bubble some more. I then take 1/2 of the bucket and split it between 4-5 gallon buckets of water sitting out and water with them. Refill the bubble bucket, add a bit more molasses and bubble some more. Repeat

    A GREAT read is Alfalfa Tea by the 3LB's (3 Little Birds). A google search should turn it up. Any of the 3LB threads are informative.

  9. #9 Possuum, Feb 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 7, 2011
    I certainly don't want to come across as an antagonist trying to defend a particular position. So to that end let me say, use a bit of common sense, KY windage, and don't overdo ANY thing or substance in the garden.

    Triacontanol is the substance in question found in alafalfa and it is a plant growth regulator - in this sense a plant growth accelerator. There has been a good bit of research into its benefits to humans as well, cancer treatment etc. In every single study ever conducted in the history of horticulture and agriculture science, triacontanol significantly increased above ground plant biomass. Every single one.

    NASA uses triacontanol in a highly concentrated extract form to help them grow plants in the space station. So, use a little caution as in less-is-more but those (the science guys) that know know that alfalfa in its raw or processed form is absolute rocket fuel for a plant. No pun intended for the NASA folks. Probably, maybe, somewhere in the inet cloud there's something to the contrary but look to the overwhelming abundance of thumbs-up approval for using it without much regard to toxicity resulting from overusing an extra handful in a tea.

    p.s. I've used a boat load of alfalfa in my garden - not near as much as kelp - so if you find something contrary to my statement please advise. I don't want to promote anything that's unsafe for an otherwise healthy garden :eek: A little probably goes a long way, err on the side of caution, and caveats like that. Cheers :)!
    • Funny Funny x 1

  10. From what I was reading, the gist of it was the little goes a long way part.

    That and it can really heat up the soil while breaking down.

    I do mine like bokashi bran and ferment it before use and have never noticed the heating the soil part, but the majority gets used as worm food. The worms love it and the castings .......:yay:

    You are right about the amount in the tea, a bit more isn't going to hurt anything. I really don't measure, but I would bet more than 1 cup/gallon goes in that sock I use. LOL, they ARE Queen size.

    Time to get another bag. I'm down to my last 10# or so out of a 50# bag.:D

    I love alfalfa, but I'm still feeling my way around AFA adding it to my mixes. I'm using alfalfa to replace blood meal in my mix.

  11. And you my friend are right as well. At least in a few studies conducted using miniscule amounts (uMols) of triacontanol extracted from alfalfa significantly (they actually measured it) decreased the time for compost to complete, significantly had higher levels of N, and it did heat the piles on avearge 10 deg warmer. They concluded - better compost.

    HeavyEngineering, use it just don't overuse it lol :) I think Wet has a valid point.
  12. I really wasn't looking for it, but I really didn't notice any heat build up with the fermented alfalfa meal in my mix or the worm bin.

    I do a bokashi type thing in a 5 gal bucket using alfalfa rather than wheat bran, but I really didn't check to see if that heated up while it cooked. Bet it did. LOL

  13. #13 Possuum, Feb 8, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2011
    Yeh man check this out. There's a few more articles and abstracts out there in the cloud. Page down to this heading or do search on the page for triacontanol

    A garden gives a body the dignity of working in its own support.- Wendell Berry
    Biodynamic Composting

    Garden Gleanings | OSU Extension Service :: Lane County

    " ... The researchers argue that there are various well documented biologically active chemicals that are capable of causing major effects when applied in very small doses. An example is the plant growth regulator triacontanol. How Steiner came up with such potent materials for aiding composting is another question, of course—a question not addressed by the researchers.
  14. hey there, i've never used alfalfa in my teas. where would it fit in in a tea consisting of worn castings, molasass, liquid kelp,alaskan humis. i use seabird guano and bat at different times. how would i fit alfalfa in this? would i want to? thanks
  15. Sure you can and should. Just toss a handful or 2 into your tea while brewing.

  16. i feed about once every two weeks. how often should i add the alfalfa? and use it for how long? all the way through flowering, etc?

  17. I use it in every batch of tea, but with flowering, perhaps some other opinions.

  18. ok, so i dropped 1 cup in 4 gallons of water and let it sit covered for 5 days. when i popped it open i was expecting some foul smells, but instead smell a very earthy sweet smell. did i mess up?

    still strained it and used 1 cup per gallon when i fed earlier, but im wondering if i missed some critical step?
  19. 1 cup to 4 gallon mix is pretty weak, IMO. I would say that is better used as a soil soak straight instead of diluted.

    For my 'concentrate' I used about 4 cups of alfalfa and 4 cups of kelp to 3 gallons of water. I bubbled it with my commercial air pump for about 36 hours, then strained. Got a little over 2 gallons finished after splashing and what-not. The plant material after the bubble had the color of dry straw. The concentrate will turn pretty bad in a few days - week, once the natural microbes start up. I describe it as someone who ate fresh manure and then vomited it up :D Add some EM if you want, also helps with the odor.
  20. the feed store only had pellets. so thats what i got. what are the cons of using? first time with alfalfa so i figure i'll try it. any feedback is welcome. thanks

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