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Eat More Alfalfa

Oct 5, 2007
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), also known as Lucerne, Purple Medick and Trefoil, is a cool season, flowering, perennial, legume. Alfalfa grows to a height of about three feet and can live from five to twelve years. It is an important forage crop that grows throughout the world in an assortment of climates. Alfalfa originated in Asia and was first cultivated by the Arabs in Iran, before 700 BC. Related species are grow wild all over central Asia and into Siberia. In 490 B.C. Roman writers give accounts of using Alfalfa as feed for their animals. Alfalfa was brought to California during the Gold Rush, from South America.

Alfalfa can be used as pasture, hay, or cut and dehydrated to make protein rich meal. It is highly valued as feed for cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, camels and llamas. It is the oldest forage crop in the U.S.

Normally alfalfa flowers are purple to blue-violet, some have shades of white and yellow. Each flower grows on its own stalk from a common stem with 10 to 50 individual flowers. The flowers bloom from July to September. Alfalfa can be sown in spring or fall, it likes a well-drained soil with potash as a fertilizer.

Use for Humans.
Alfalfa has a long history of folk use in Europe as a spring tonic and an appetite stimulant. Alfalfa has been used by the Chinese since the sixth century to treat kidney stones. It has an age-old reputation as a nutritious food. Traditionally the whole herb and leaf have been used.

Because of a long root system which absorbs minerals, alfalfa is an outstanding source of nutrition with calcium, magnesium, potassium, beta-carotene, chlorophyll and vitamins A, B-12, C, D, E and K. The leaves contain all eight of the essential amino acids.

At this time there are no published studies that consuming any amount of alfalfa or alfalfa juice is in anyway harmful for humans. I would not over do it because of Alfalfa's mild laxative effects. The seeds contain a mildly toxic amino acid L-canavanine, so you may be able to eat too much of the seeds if you really worked at it.

Alfalfa sprouts.
Alfalfa sprouts are easy to grow and are highly nutritious. They are great on salads and sandwiches. You can buy sprouts from many grocery stores, but just for fun, you should grow them for yourself at least once. There is something magic about watching seeds grow in a glass jar. Every day they get a little bigger, children love it.

How to grow sprouts:

Put a handful of seeds in a glass jar.

Pore just enough water in the jar to completely covered the seeds.

Put cheesecloth over the top of the jar. A piece of panty hose works just as well.

Put a rubber band around the outer edge of the jar to keep the cheesecloth in place.

Soak the seeds overnight.

The next day, take the jar to a sink and turn it upside down to drain out the water.

Seeds need to be damp but not entirely wet. You just want to keep them moist but don't drownd them.

Sprouts do not need light to grow, they do not start to do photosynthesis until they grow leaves. Light has little if any effect without leaves.

Twice a day rinse the seeds by adding a little water, swishing the jar around a little, drain the water. Keep seeds damp but not wet.

In just a few days, the sprouts should be growing. If everything goes well they will get to be a few inches and white.

On the 4th day, rinse them and drain off the excess water, put the jar on a windowsill or tabletop where it is going to get plenty of sunlight. When photosynthesis starts the sprouts will turn green.

Eat them.

Alfalfa juice.
Alfalfa juice can be made from sprouts, it is very strong and is best with other juices like carrot. Carrot cuts the strength of the alfalfa and the combination amplifies the individual benefits of each juice. I have seen this combination used with great success to put weight on people.

Alfalfa is a Legume.
Legumes are plants with roots that can fix nitrogen from the air. The air we breath is around 78% nitrogen, plants need nitrogen to make chlorophyll, amino acids, proteins and nucleic acids. Fixation, is converting nitrogen from the air into forms plants can use. Most fixation is done by symbiotic bacteria like Rhizobium meliloti.

Alfalfa roots have nodules that contain the bacteria Rhizobium meliloti. Rhizobium meliloti is a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that lives in the soil and has established a partnership with Alfalfa. The ability to fix nitrogen is restricted to a small number of species. Rhizobium meliloti can only fix nitrogen within alfalfa.

For the garden.
Alfalfa is a good slow-release source of nitrogen for the garden and it's cheap. It supplies enzymes and trace elements that chemical nitrogen fertilizers do not have.

Some of my gardening friends make an alfalfa tea and get great results with it on their roses, delphiniums and irises. I am not a fan of the tea, I am more of a lazy gardener and making the tea is too much like work.

Pellets and meal are available from garden and feed supply stores in 50 lb. bags. I prefer pellets because they are easer to handle. Some people say pellets take a bit longer to break down than meal. If this bothers you then put a heap in a bucket and fill it with water. It turns to mush and you can pour the mush around. My way of doing it is to buy a 50 lb. bag every year. Twice a year, during the spring, just before a rain, I sprinkle half the bag around the garden. The flowers love me for it and they show their love. When it stops raining and the sun comes out I sit in my lawnchair and enjoy the flowers.

Nothing in this essay is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Alfalfa has not been approved by the Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of any disease.
About the Author
Harvey Robinson, longtime herb grower and user.
Webmaster of http://eatmoreherbs.com/ and http://www.yearstoyourhealth.com/

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