katyajini

What is your opinion/experience with alfalfa and AA tea? & Qs

katyajini
last year

I have heard so much about aa for roses that I decided to try it out somewhat systematically.


First I worked in several handfuls of aa pellets around the rose bushes. Ten days later no harm but nothing remarkable,


Meanwhile I made aa tea. There are many recipes on the WWW which are all variations on a theme. The one I followed is like this: In a large plastic vessel with a lid, like a garbage can, soak aa pellets in water, about 1 cup pellets per gallon of water. Stir it thoroughly at least once a day and keep loosely covered (not air tight). Let it ferment for minimum 3 days, better 7 days. Some say even longer fermentation is ok. At this point can augment it with additives such as epsom salt, whatever your heart desires, or use it straight. Add the fluid portion, leaving the aa solids at the bottom, to your plants. Many people add water to the aa solids again (same volume as before) and let it ferment for another 7 days, stirring once a day. Best to locate the container in a remote spot because it develops a very strong smell. (well maybe not that bad)


I used 12 gallon flip top storage boxes. By day 3 the mixture has a forceful barnyard smell. By day 7 it has a forceful pee and poop barnyard smell. The liquid becomes thick almost like syrup and a translucent amber color. It can draw flies. I am not sure of this but it seems to work better if the container is in good sunlight. I have had two containers side by side and the one getting more sun was much thicker and more amber colored. (Cant be that much temperature difference between the two?) I read another members comment, she too thought that putting the buckets in the sun worked better.


Recommended to apply about one gallon of this brew per rose bush. And reapply every week to every 4-6 weeks.


I applied about 1/3 of a gallon (hadn't any idea what could happen) per rose bush and 1-2 cups to every tomato plant and other vegetable.


I didn't know what to expect. Three days later I came out in the morning and something was different. I had to take a second look. All my vegetables seemed to stand taller, stronger and straighter. There was a very distinct change.


Roses of course have a different growth style and rate. By day six or seven I could see tiny shoots/canes coming out at the base of some of the rose bushes. Since Jume 5th I have made 4 applications (including the second less strong brew) and all my roses show basal break. Certainly it is possible all those bushes would have put out canes anyway. But most of them were hurting and not doing much and the aa tea 'seemed' to make them stir, wake up and grow. Now they are also putting out shoots along the branches like crazy.


I gave some to my climbing hydrangea and it almost feels like I see the tips growing longer along the fence in real time. That has never happened.


I have read comments: its nothing but nitrogen. I dont think so. The vegetables did not put on just vegetative growth; there has been much fruit set. Best I have had in my garden. This is my first time observing the growth of roses carefully so I dont have anything to compare it to but looks happy to me.


There are also comments: you are creating anaerobic fermentation, wrong, wrong, wrong. Correct but that the best I can do and it works. Maybe some anaerobic fermentation is needed to release the goodies? who knows?


I am posting some examples in pictures below.


Here is my question: Can this go wrong? Can you apply too much, too often? No one says. There does not seem to be any consensus as to how much to apply and how often. And since this stimulates growth when is the best time for the last application? (zone 6b/7a)


From my very limited experience this probably works best when the plant is going to have a growth spurt anyway. Like wind in your sails. But it is possible there is more to this. Haven't observed for long enough.


Overall this has been a great garden discovery for me. I dont think its a fluke and is going to be reproducible.


Have you tried AA or AA tea? How did it work for you?


Comments (194)

  • Paul Barden
    last year

    The active ingredient in Alfalfa meal is Triacontanol, a long-chain fatty alcohol component of the epicuticular wax surface of the leaves of many species, not just Alfalfa. Its a component of Beeswax, and Tea leaves. Look it up. There is plenty of literature citing tests done to determine its effects and benefits, starting in 1979.


    "When extracted, concentrated and applied to crops, Triacontanol is a potent bio stimulant. It has been shown in scientific studies to increase the rate of photosynthesis, improve CO2 assimilation (absorption) under salt stress and also improves the transpiration rate when applied exogenously. It also increases stomatal conductance which is a measure of the rate at which CO2 is taken up into the leaves via the stomata or the rate at which water vapour leave the plant via the stomata." (https://www.aqualabs-uk.com/what-is-triacontanol/)


    Does it work? Yes, it does. However, Triacontanol is not soluble in water. Commercial preparations of Triacontanol are made by dissolving Triacontanol in polysorbate and then making it into a water soluble powder. Home growers who brew Alfalfa meal/pellets in a tub of water are probably extracting a small amount of Triacontanol either by bacterial action on the epicuticular wax, or another alcohol is being generated which dissolves some of the Triacontanol into the solution.


    Can you apply too much of it? Yep.* But because the process of brewing Alfalfa meal into a "tea" is undoubtedly very inefficient, you are extracting only small amounts of the phytohormone, and so it would be difficult to expose plants to too much of the active ingredient. It is not soluble in water, that much is known for sure. You can be sure that some of the effect seen in applying Alfalfa tea is the addition of Nitrogen as part of the brewing process. Alfalfa contains available nitrogen.


    Its too bad you didn't do a control study with your Tomatoes, by feeding only half of the plants, so you had something to compare the treated plants with. Only that way are you evaluating a single factor that may be at play.


    *I know Orchid growers who experimented with a commercial product that contains soluble Triacontanol, and it was discovered that anything more than very tiny amounts of the substance could cause growth deformities that persisted in future growths for up to 2 years after the triacontanol was removed from the potting material. This scenario isn't likely to be an issue with Rose cultivation when using Alfalfa products made at home.

    katyajini thanked Paul Barden
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  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    last month

    Could I make the alfalfa tea in a rain barrel, then serve the contents to my watering can from the drainage at the bottom of the barrel? I guess you would need to filter the bottom of the barrel to make sure you do not serve out the meal with the tea.

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    last month

    That's a great idea! The meal is fine for the roses, but then can't be re-used. You could just tie a fabric piece around the outlet to sieve it.

  • witchygirrl6bwv
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I love alfalfa tea, and no one told my roses about it being hocus pocus or placebo effect. I also had one start growing after threatening. I would also dance and howl under the full moon, if I thought it would help. :-p *edit to add, I don't know what I'm talking about, it's just the only thing that ever made me go "wow that really did something". In the same way when you get a lot of rain, and see a huge red cane shoot up overnight. It was noticeable, so I keep doing it. I like the meal, because I got pellets one time, and found out they might have salt in them. Never used those pellets. I only use about one box of meal a summer.

    katyajini thanked witchygirrl6bwv
  • katyajini
    Original Author
    last month

    witchy: it works me great too. very reliable, if messy.


    I use aa pellets. you can buy 100% aa pellets at about $15 for 40 or 50 pounds. The pellets without additives are cheaper. I have been needing 2 bags because I use it all over my garden.

  • Deborah (10a - Sunset 24)
    last month

    Westes -- I use my rain barrel, but I don't hook up the hose. I laboriously dip my watering can into the barrell and walk back and forth back and forth back and forth. If you wear your steps tracker you can call it a workout! When I justhave sludge left at the bottom, I blast it up with the hose, and then use that, too. When I've used my alfalfa meal twice and it's just sludge left on the bottom, I scoot the barrel over to my fruit trees and dump the rest out there. I've only done this twice, but my roses are looking really good...And I've only let the mix sit for 24 hours! Next time I'll have to try the whole fermentation thing...

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    last month
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Regarding rubber/latex gloves ... wear them with overalls and rubber booties too! If you don't i guarantee you'll accidentally dump the entire contents on yourself at some point in time and wish you hadn't been wearing your favourite sneakers. :-((. Don't ask me how I know!!! LOL!!!

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Deborah so if I am going to follow that procedure, I might as well buy a 40-gallon plastic garbage bin for $20 rather than investing in a rain barrel at $100.

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    last month

    Vap or anyone: why dont I get notifications when there are posts on this thread? I would like to know whats happening on certain threads. I checked on my main page and could not not find anything that could set this problem right. Do you know how I could fix this??

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    last month

    @katyajini I have also noticed when my threads ago that I stop getting notifications. I do not see any way to change the behavior. Gardenweb is so loaded with bugs that it is difficult to see them fixing this.

    katyajini thanked westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    last month

    Go into advanced settings and change it. Sometimes it just randomly erases notifications. It's also possible you hit a note at the end of a thread that takes you off that email list. I have done that accidentally

    katyajini thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • katyajini
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks guys! I think I did the off email list thing. Is there any way to reverse that?


    Since we talking about technicalities how do the green highlighted @ thing???

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    last month

    Did you check your settings under advanced settings.? Just type at with the name and it comes up. However not all of my laptops pads phones do this. So it may depend. I can't remember how I resigned up. I think I just went in to the settings again but I don't remember. Hopefully someone else knows.

    katyajini thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    last month

    @vaporvac the link at the bottom of each topic says "Click to switch off email notifications about new comments". That is email notifications. Selecting that link does not seem to stop real-notifications when you are logged in.

    Like a lot of Gardenweb, this functionality is buggy. I have had that link occasionally stop all notifications, and sometimes it stops only email notifications. What a weird user interface that they give you no option to stop realtime notifications online.

    Like a lot of Gardenweb, the functionality in Advanced Settings is not complete. They give you lots of options to configure email notifications, but no real control over real-time notifications when you are logged in.

    katyajini thanked westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    last month

    @katyajini Type @ and then the user's name and you will get a real-time display of users matching the substring you type. Hit enter when you are over the right user name. The problem is that if the user has added zone information into the name, you end up having to display all of that. For example @Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley. For such cases, I just type the shortened version and do not link the profile @vaporvac

    katyajini thanked westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
  • katyajini
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I will look through advanced settings again. Thanks for @Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley!!! And Thanks @westes Zone 9a California SF Bay

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    last month

    Just note what I tried to write above. The at username does not work across all platforms so ymmv. Huestis sometimes who's completely on signs me randomly from things in advanced settings. It's really crazy. I haven't had that done for a while though.

  • Lia Z6 Ontario
    last month

    I used Alfalfa meal this summer, and it works great on my roses!


    new canes pop up after I applied AA and AA tea onto the ground within a week.


  • Deborah (10a - Sunset 24)
    last month

    Westes - I have one official rain barrel & three gray trash cans that are only 40 gallons each, but they last longer than my rain barrels & are handy for other garden chores when rainy season ends for us (and stackable when not in use).


    Vapor - oh what a Picture you paint!!

  • a1an
    28 days ago

    What has been your experience with just


    incorporating alfalfa pellets into the drip line

    just making tea for 2 -3 days

    or

    tea fermenting for a week to 10 days ?

    I've never been a -tea- person myself..nor have I ever used it on any shrubs up until last year, when I incorporated into the dirt/drip line. I've been putting alfalfa pellets into the my lawncare programs as long as I can remember though...

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    28 days ago

    I did not get that much effect with pellets worked into the soil in spring/summer. But I think there is good benefit in adding pellets to the soil in late fall. The benefits are seen next spring when the roses leaf out. I have had very special benefits from aa tea. I used 7 day ferment. However I think less or more time would still work well here. So many variables are at play constantly so just some fermentation is a good place to start.

    How did you use aa in your lawn?

  • a1an
    27 days ago

    Just spread it out on lawn spring - around 20lbperK. Organice slow feeding nitrogen during summer on my cool season turf. Just water it in or plan to do it right before a rainfall. Otherwise Bob the Squirrel and Thumper might make off with the pellets.

  • a1an
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    note to self or note to fellow GW'ers....use gloves when handling tea . LOL, the smell doesn't exactly wash off ur hands. speaking from my experience, cough, mishap this morning

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    @a1an, I tried to warn you above! LOL!

    Regarding rubber/latex gloves ... wear them with overalls and rubber booties too! If you don't I guarantee you'll accidentally dump the entire contents on yourself at some point in time and wish you hadn't been wearing your favourite sneakers. :-((. Don't ask me how I know!!! LOL!!!

  • a1an
    27 days ago

    Ha VV. I had to scroll a few threads up to see what your last post meant.....


    I have used alfalfa forever, however more in a dry form spread with a spreader for the lawns...I've tried doing tea once, it stunk like high holey ##@ and having avoided it since.


    Ha. Just was surprised the smell was not washing off the hands after a -few- washes.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    27 days ago

    Regarding the smell of brewing alfalfa tea, if I have it in a closed plastic container, will that be enough to keep the smell from wandering over to my neighbor's yard?

  • HU-664304290
    27 days ago

    Make sure there is a hold to release the pressure that the fermentation produces or your neighbor will be covered with aa and tea!! Lol


  • a1an
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    I would not seal it -tight-. It does build up pressure. And not sure how many or how little flies are in your area, but the smell of the liquid attracts them quite a bit. The container I set down that I used to scoop and pour it. I was busing doing other things and when I came back to rinse the container clean, there was a wad of flies on the container and also in the bin that I was doing the brew . Took some ammonia and rinsed it down...


    Prior to tea, I've always been worried about the rabbits and critters stealing the pellets away. Hence, I always applied it right before a decent rain.


    Ha, with this teamaking, I'm more concerned about how many flies it will attract and the bug bites that come along with it. I'll have to read more on this tea thing but too much - tricontanol- is a bad thing as well

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    27 days ago

    So I need to install a pressure release valve on the top of the garbage can?

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    27 days ago

    Just put it on loosely enough to keep the smell inside butt not so that it explodes. you won't have a problem if you make sure there is an air gap.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    27 days ago

    @vaporvac Okay, but I guess in that case things can get inside it.

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    27 days ago

    What Things are you Worried about getting in? The Gap is not that big just enough to let the air get out.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    27 days ago

    @vaporvac Small fruit flies and the like. Okay, I understand the issues

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    26 days ago

    Never fruit flies. Only flies that like garbage. I get flies from time to time but i deal with it and move on because the tea is so good for my roses and other plants.


    There simply is not enough tricontanol in aa tea to harm

    I dont know how you could achieve such concentrations by fermentation of aa hay. High concentrations of triacontanol are a concern when you are starting from solid pure tricontanol.

  • a1an
    26 days ago

    Granted grass is much smaller than a rose ;-) ; if I overseed a lawn, I do back off the application rate as I was under the impression --too much Triacontanol-- can actually set back the young turf

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    24 days ago
    last modified: 24 days ago

    Do any of you add molasses and fish emulsion to your alfalfa tea? The same video where I saw that also claims to use an application rate of one cup of alfalfa pellets for every five gallons of water. That is only about 20% of what others here are using.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    24 days ago

    Have any of you installed a spigot on your alfalfa containers, to help manage the mess when you fill your watering cans? Someone suggested that a normal spigot would quickly get clogged. They are suggesting to use a PVC pipe similar to the one shown below. Has anyone tried this?


  • Chantal Galda
    24 days ago

    I tried alfafa pellets before, I had soaked them for a day and put the wetted pellets under the roses, some got molt and I don’t know if I really noticed a difference. I’m now trying the tea. My husband is not into roses at all but when I asked them about the alfalfa and if I should leave the lid unsecured he jumped up and before I knew it he had a big glass jar with alfalfa and some weird lid. (He had bought it to make mead)

    Super curious if this will make good tea lol



  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    24 days ago
    last modified: 24 days ago

    Ha! As a beer and hard cider maker, I was going to suggest that, but figured not too many people would have that available. I thought about using a plastic one I got in England years ago that's more like a bucket. P.S. Don't fool around with the "lid" or you'll be sorry! I've had some uncensored words when friends would come over and knock asking, "What does this do?" They soon found out! Good on your DH!!! :-)

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    24 days ago
    last modified: 24 days ago

    westes: I do think adding molasses and fish emulsion to the aa tea is a great idea if you get it together. There is very good rationale for using those additions for soil microbial activity, to develop and maintain the activity at its peak. At least I think so. I do it whenever I can. I have no control plants but my garden is getting better and better.

    I am so used to using a large vessel with a lid at the top I just dip and take out what I need. Usually I dilute it a bit with water in another large container with whatever else I want to add (such as fish emulsion......)

    I prefer to make the higher concentration fermentation and dilute the tea, or not, as I see fit. Then ferment the aa grass residue one more time, 2X total. To my mind this is more time and space effective. Both those two considerations are important for me.

    What is important is whatever you do, do it consistently for a while so you see reproducible effects consistently. And then you can modify.

    I think the more dilute fermentation would work too, but I would go with the conc one.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    24 days ago

    Is there anything I can add at the time I water with alfalfa tea to make the water more alkaline? In another thread, some users have speculated that my garden roses may need more alkaline soil. I measure my soil around pH 6.2, which is normally ideal for roses, but apparently some older roses that use Dr Huey rootstock grow to like more alkaline soil. I would be interested in just testing to see if more alkaline water in the alfalfa tea increases the nutrient uptake for specific plants.

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    24 days ago

    Here is a picture of new basals on my Pink Eden within maybe 10 days of adding aa tea. My garden in this area is very cluttered, I am redoing a lot, I am sorry:


    some arrows: (there is one wrong arrow, sorry)



    The basals maybe completely coincidental, would happen anyway, due to something else, yes. But they did appear after the aa tea.


    There are other roses, most of them showing happy growth. But its hard to take clear pictures because of the untidyness,


    laguna:






  • katyajini
    Original Author
    23 days ago

    westes: I really dont know about making your water more alkaline before watering. One thing I can think of is a product called 'pH up' for the garden, not the one for pools. You could add that to your water and ph the water to where you want it. But I imagine you would want to do something simpler and quicker.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    23 days ago

    @katyajini I was thinking I could try to add bicarbonate (i.e., baking soda). That would certainly raise pH, but I do not know if it is safe for the plant.

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    No, baking soda would not harm at all provided the final pH of the solution is reasonable. And you are not using so much of it as to cause salt burn. Just measure the pH of the aa tea and add baking soda to till you just get your pH. sodium bicarbonate appears in water from many sources. Its a matter of pH and concentration. Do on a small volume first, keeping track of how much you are adding of what and then you can scale up as needed. Be aware that sometimes solutions that contain a lot of amino acids and proteins (such as aa tea) may suck up a lot of salts without changing pH, ie they can be strong buffers. In this case you cannot use baking soda but need something more caustic such as sodium hydroxide (lye)...just a little bit of lye can make the pH alkaline quickly. the experiment is worth doing, adjusting pH of aa tea to an alkaline range. It may happen that you have to add alkaline water in a different way. But it may work the way you want it to.

  • Dingo2001 - Z5 Chicagoland
    22 days ago
    last modified: 22 days ago

    Westes I would have a soil test done, I don’t know how reliable the home test kits are. How alkaline is your water now? I seem to remember other posters in CA saying their water is very alkaline. Does Dr. Huey need alkaline conditions or just tolerate them?

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    22 days ago

    @dingo2001 My soil pH is around 6.2, pretty much textbook ideal for roses. The roots of a Redwood tree grew under the rose garden and may have acidified deep soil. In other forums, I am being told that hybrid tea roses on Dr Huey rootstock prefer more alkaline soil after their first three years of growth. My tap water is not alkaline, pH is also just over 6.

    So I am simply asking if I can potentially improve the uptake of nutrients by alkalizing the water that contains the fertilizer.

    I could attempt to alkalize the soil with dolomite lime, but that takes more than a year to have a real effect, and I want a way to test a theory about the pH that my roses need.

  • katyajini
    Original Author
    21 days ago
    last modified: 21 days ago

    Just a thought westes. Lime may not take as long as a year to start changing pH upwards. As far as I know lime does not require microbial activity to dissolve into the soil and start neutralizing acid molecules. If your soil is pH 6.2 it (lime) will neutralize some acidity with the moisture present and with every watering. My soil is quite acidic too. Less than 6.5 and close to 6.0 in many places. I have read that that range of pH is good for healthy roses. I am not sure why I am worrying. Maybe I heard that slightly alkaline conditions are good for some fragrances.

  • westes Zone 9a California SF Bay
    21 days ago

    @katyajini The point was I wanted to test the theory that the roses needed more alkalinity without committing myself to doing that long-term.

    This source claims that dolomite lime takes one to two years. At very least, it is probably not months to affect the deep roots.

  • a1an
    20 days ago

    I wonder how much residual -whatever- is left over in the alfalfa post brewing.


    I moved some mulch, dug some pockets. Poured my organic matter into said pockets around each shrub, and placed back dirt/mulch


    Going to check the same spots 60 days from now or earlier to see if the alfalfa may matt-and not allow water to permeate as much or by then, all the little earthworms and such might have displaced that alfalfa some

  • Chantal Galda
    20 days ago

    I just read an article about banana peel tea, I might try that next!