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alfalfa in a mown lawn?  RSS feed

 
Annie Hope
Posts: 98
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Hi,

We what to keep our orchard lawn near the house mown on the highest setting, but also want to increase its nutrition levels as it is grazed by chickens, and the mowings are fought over by the cow and pigs (they come bellow or oink at their respective fences as soon as they hear the mower going). There are is a few bald patches and I thought that I could seed them in with some alfalfa.
We are still clearing out the orchard grass that was left to seed when we bought the property almost two years ago, however, and even when we cut it at ground level with a Japanese hand sickle, there still remains hard sharp spikes. WE don't want the same problem with alfalfa. If we keep it mown regularly, is there in risk that alfalfa would develop a similar thick stalk at the base?

Annie
 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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We planted our orchard in a neglected mixed grass/alfalfa field. The alfalfa comes back quicker than the mown grass (12" before the grass hits 6") and makes deep thick roots and stalks that are next to impossible to grub out. The only thing that kept it low was the chooks, when they grazed a couple individual units where we had them in their winter confinement area. We are doing chop and drop with a sicklebar mower, so the alfalfa is a plus in our situation. We also let some of it flower for the bee. Scything alfalfa (we've done some of that where we can't mow) is tough work if you let it get ahead of you. If I wanted to seed in something more manageable like you are describing, I'd look at a perennial clover. The white clover I started grows about 12" high, tolerates the occasional mow, and the bees like it too.
 
wayne stephen
steward
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Location: Western Kentucky-Climate Unpredictable Zone 6b
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Alfalfa will form a thick wide crown over the years . It also needs to grow tall to be healthy and photosynthesize . It does not mind cutting or grazing but needs height like red clover does . I agree with Ann . White clover is an excellent option for mowable areas . Chickens love it too .
 
Jeff R Hodgins
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I recomend white clover it isz small and creeping.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 469
Location: Eastern Kansas
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How about clover? I have had some in my lawn for years, and it tolerates mowing VERY well!
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 227
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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They need to specify better. You want white dutch clover not straight white clover for lawn type applications. The one problem with it is if you have kids(or adults) who run in the grass bare foot as the blooms dry bees and that can get you stung for walking on them without shoes.
 
Marty Mitchell
Posts: 325
Location: Mobile, AL
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I have read that the white dutch clover mentioned... fixes at least 300lbs of nitrogen per acre per year according to the USDA.

White clover also is a good source of calcium... great for egg laying chickens.

The leaves and flowers are also edible for humans.

Then all of the pollinators and beneficial insects love the stuff too obviously.

So... with all that being said... I totally top seeded my entire lawn around my house with the stuff. I found a 9lb bag on Amazon for cheap. They were already inoculated with the nitrogen fixing bacteria too. It's beginning to come up now. I can wait to see how the nitrogen hog lawn reacts to natural fertilizer.

I have read that alfalfa fixes nitrogen as well... and has roots that grow up to 15ft long. Sounds like a hardy plant!

Every time you mow you will have root dieback... and the lawn will get fertilized.
 
Bev Huth
Posts: 36
Location: AR, USA
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Alfalfa does not like frequent mowing (only 2-4 times a year depending on the zone) It is hardy with a heck of a root system and, nutritious for foragers and grazers.

I wouldn't use it for a yard but, for a forage and grazing area, yes, it can be good for that.

White clover is better for a mowed lawn. Mine is a mix of grasses, white clover and dandelions (those yellow flowered things are very nutritious for human and animal alike and, are easy to grow.

Okay so some might think you have a very weed filled lawn, oh well, you know it's good food for anything that will eat it.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 179
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Dutch white clover works quite well with regular mowing in my experience. I'll be experimenting with forage chicory this year also. But let's not forget the lowly dandelion, which is as nutritious for stock as nutritious gets. I make sure to broadcast as much dandelion seed as I can on my lawn. Once that root takes hold, it will tolerate darn near any frequency of mowing.
 
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