Alfalfa

When you think about what to plant in your garden, I'll hazard a guess that alfalfa was not on your list. But should it be?

Alfalfa is a great addition to any food because it is highly nutritious. It contains vitamins A, all the B vitamins, D, E and K, iron, niacin, biotin, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium and chlorophyll. So you could probably ditch your daily multivitamin if you added these to your diet.
But they are a powerhouse in the garden too. Like legume crops they add nitrogen to the soil which makes them a great crop to plant before or with leafy crops like lettuce. Their extensive root system breaks up clay, improves soil quality and water retention and is a beneficial insect attractor which bees especially love.

They are also amazing in pots and on a window sill. So if you have a small partially sunny space indoors then alfalfa could be a great pot plant for you.

PLANTING

Sow as seeds in Autumn straight in the pot or ground. I have never seen alfalfa seedlings in nurseries. One plant is actually a collection of many seeds. Start with a small sprinkle and add to them if you need more.

SPACING

Plant a light sprinkle of seeds in one spot or in a trench. It's not a crop that we eat a lot of.

HARVEST

These are a perennial cut-and-come-again crop which means that you plant them once and they grow for a number if years. You cut off what you need and it regrows. Harvest as soon as shoots are big enough to cut off.

COMPANION PLANTING

They will happily grow with anyone but their nitrogen fixing makes them a good companion to leafy crops.

CONTAINER PLANTING

Alfalfa will grow well in a container and also be happy indoors on a window sill. It has extensive roots so give it a pot which is at least 20cm deep.

CROP ROTATION

Plant after roots and fruits and before leaves. They add nitrogen to the soil which leafy crops need to grow leaves. You can also under plant them with lettuce to add extra nitrogen and feed them as they grow.

SUCCESSION PLANTING

As this is a perennial plant and a cut-and-come-again crop, there is no need for succession planting. The one plant just keeps growing.

Alfalfa