Green manure Organic Lucerne, La Bella Carnpagnols. Medicago sativa.
Also known as Alfalfa. This plant is a perennial flowering legume. Reaching a height of up to 1m, lucerne has a deep root system enabling it to withstand drought. Grows well on thin sandy soils. Has a purpley clover like flower with tri-foliate leaves.
How to grow:
For a spring sowing, sow March to May and for a winter sowing, August. Sow at 0.5cm deep, roll seed in. Plants die back over winter to regrow in spring. Lasts well for 2 – 4 years. Allow a couple of years between Lucerne crops. Sow at 1g per 4 square metres. Collect seed from seed pods once the pods start to open for themselves (point of natural dispersal).
It doesn’t do so well on boggy ground and it really prefers the warmth. Slow to start it takes a couple of months to really get going so be patient and once it does it’s a great vetch to have in. If you don’t want it to seed just cut down before seeds start to set and add cuttings to your compost heap.
Favourite ways to use them:
Great as a green manure. Alfalfa shoots are tasty and nutritious in salads. Traditionally a high protein forage crop, it also serves as an excellent green manure pulling up nutrients from deep in the soil. As a legume, it also fixes nitrogen into the soil.
Average seed weight: 500 seeds per gram.