Growing Tomatoes with Alfalfa Mulch

Last year I read an expounding on using alfalfa for mulch and then at the end of the year turning the soil to mix in the alfalfa so the alfalfa would act as fertilizer.

So last year a bought a bail of alfalfa hay. Had trouble getting the bail into the back of the car. A California bale of hay is much bigger than an Arizona hay bale and heavier too. I have a small test garden that is only two and half feet by six feet. I planted two tomato plants in the garden. Then I took the bale and broke it up. Baled hay will come apart in sheets a couple of inches thick. I laid the sheets of hay out to act as mulch around the tomato plants. The hay is porous enough to allow water through but I kept the area around (about eight inches around the base) the tomato plants clear.  The alfalfa mulch did seem to keep the weeds down. The lack of weeds could have been due to the drought. I only watered the base of the tomato plants and watered carefully so I didn’t get water on the leaves of the tomato plants. No water and no sun light could have stopped the weeds.

After the growing season I pulled the tomato plants and trashed them. I do not want any disease from the plants getting into the ground. I then turned the alfalfa into the soil with a shovel.

This year I had plenty of weeds in the test garden. After pulling them out I turned the soil with a shovel. I found clumps of alfalfa in the soil. It had not decomposed. With the drought I had not been growing anything in the garden and had not been watering the garden.

Alfalfa hay does work as a mulch. It’s full of nitrogen and should make a good organic fertilizer. It takes a lot of work to spread it around, it’s messy looking, and it’s a lot of work to till it into the ground. It also take a lot of alfalfa to cover a garden.

Write on, draw on. Professor Hyram Voltage