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organic gardening - how to use alfalfa feed

From the internet I got info on using alfalfa in the form of horse or rabbit feed on my organic veggies & fruit trees. I followed directions and put down a 2 - 3" layer of rabbit alfalfa feed 3 days ago and now my plants are dying! What did I do wrong and how can I save my citrus & banana trees?

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Alfalfa pellets definitely are a good source of slow-release nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium as well as many trace minerals and the growth-stimulant triacontanol which is released as the alfalfa decomposes.

I know you said you followed directions, but from the damage you described, it sounds like you may have added too much. If applied too thickly and/or too close to the trunks or stems, the alfalfa pellets can burn the plants. Don't forget, too, that different plants have different nutritional requirements and some may adversely react to an "overdose" of any one of them.

Can you remove any of the pellets? That may help. But whether you can remove some or not, water the area thoroughly and deeply in order to promote leaching of the alfalfa pellets' elements through the soil and away from your plants' roots.

Hope some of this helps.

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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 10:28 pm
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Thanks for your suggestion. I had come to that conclusion after posting the question and removed it from around the plants today - with the help of my handyman - then hosed and ran the sprinklers to water them well.We noticed that the pellets were very hot like a compost pile so the heat may do more damage than the nutrients. Don't know if it will save all of them, but some may make it. The least affected was a 10 yr old blood orange but the 2 yr old trees are in trouble.
I had applied these pellets more sparingly early in the summer in my veggie garden with great success. The internet instruction was to lay 4" deep and I didn't go quite that deep, but it was too much anyway.
Thanks very much for your help.

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Some organic gardeners use those alfalfa pellets to heat up their compost piles. If you haven't started your own compost pile, that would be a terrific way to feed your plants in the long run. :)

See our Compost Forum, esp. the Sticky threads at the top of the forum, for more information.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Wow are you sure it said 4" DEEP? Were they in dry form or after reconstituting in water -- they fluff up Several times in volume.

It sounds as though you are using it in an orchard or at least around trees so maybe that accounts for what seems to me an inordinate amount.

Used straight and clumped on the surface, even in smaller amounts, they will get hot and also will become very stinky. Trust me. :roll:

In addition to pulling them away from the base of plants, which you should do with ANY kind of mulch (anything thicker than 2" is mulch), I would recommend adding a layer of dry leaves if you can get hold of them, or possibly straw or wheat/bran, layer on top and mix them together.

I normally rake the alfalfa into the soil then cover with "brown" mulch like straw or shredded bark (in case of woody plants) or make a soil mix with them, or add some in the bottom of a planting hole and work them in. I reconstitute with water first in a bucket or wheelbarrow before using unless it's a perfect drizzly day.

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sounds like you put waaay too much. if it was alfalfa hay then thats different, but the feed in bags is too strong. you should have done some research before applying something you knew little about.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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