Alfalfa, or Lucerne, is a mild flavored supplementary leaf shoot that is high in iron and protein. Its can be added to salads or the fully grown version can be used as ‘green manure’ to add nutrients to your garden. It is grown commercially for livestock or for the chlorophyll in its leaves.
Varieties of Alfalfa
Medicago Sativa is the name of the alfalfa plant. New types of alfalfa plants are available on the market each year. Improvements have been made in disease resistance and climate tolerance. Your local supplier will know more about what is suitable in your region.
Alfalfa should be sown in to either the ground or containers after the last frosts. In warmer areas, such as the tropics, alfalfa will do best during the cooler parts of the year. Alfalfa seeds are very fine, much like carrot seeds, and can be sown mixed with sand for an even spread. They should be about a 1/4 inch (6mm) deep.
Prepare the soil by raking the area free of rocks.
Most readers will only be interested in growing the alfalfa shoots – read below. If growing for livestock, simply keep alfalfa weed free. Water regularly. It is a plant that does not require much attention.
Alfalfa is a perennial plant that last for up to eight years. After approximately its fourth year the output becomes a bit limp, so its a good idea to replace plants at that point.
Growing Alfalfa Sprouts in Jars
This technique is just about the easiest way to grow any edible vegetable. All you need is a jar, a rubber band and some sort of mesh screen. A piece of fly screen works well. Place the alfalfa seeds in the bottom of the jar covered by an inch of water. Put the mesh screen over the top of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Leave overnight. In the morning, drain all the water from the jar through the mesh screen, leaving the seeds in there.
Each day, rinse the seeds and drain them using the same method, in order to keep the plant free of disease. In about a 3-5 days you will have edible alfalfa sprouts.