How to Plant and Grow Alfalfa

Alfalfa can be grown in three different ways. As sprouts in a jar, as plant in the garden, or as plant in a pot. Growing Alfalfa sprouts in a jar is often the best and fastest method while growing Alfalfa as a plant is often better for animal food.

About the Plant:

Botanical Name:Medicago sativa
Other Names:Lucerne, Purple Medick, Trefoil
Size and Appearance:Alfalfa is a perennial plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The leaves are green and have a toothed margin. The flowers are small and purple.

Planting Time:

Spring or fall

Blossoming Time:

Blooms in the summer

Propagation:

Can be propagated by seed or by division.

Sun:

Prefers full sun

Temperature:

Can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but prefers cooler temperatures.

Soil:

Well-drained, fertile soil

Watering:

Should be watered regularly

Fertilize:

Every 4-6 Weeks With a Balanced Fertilizer Such as 10-10-10 

Uses:

Used as animal feed, forage crop, and for its medicinal properties

In this article, you will learn how to grow Alfalfa in your garden, in a plant pot, and in a jar. Let´s start with growing Alfalfa sprouts in a jar.

How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts in a Jar

The steps for growing alfalfa:

  1. Buy alfalfa seeds from any local grocery or health food store. 
  2. Soak alfalfa seeds in water for 6-8 hours.
  3. Drain the soaked seeds and rinse them thoroughly.
  4. Place the seeds in a sprouting tray or jar, and cover them with a damp cloth.
  5. Set the tray in a warm, dark place and let them germinate.
  6. After 24 hours, remove the cloth and rinse the seeds again.
  7. Return the tray to its warm, dark location.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the sprouts are 1-2 inches long.
  9. Then remove them from the tray and place them in a container of fresh water.
  10. Allow the sprouts to soak for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse them.
  11. Store the sprouts in a covered container in the refrigerator until you use them.

In the following, I will cover each step in a little more detail.

1. Buy Alfalfa Seeds From Any Local Grocery or Health Food Store. 

Alfalfa seeds can be bought in your local grocery store but they often don´t sell Alfalfa seeds year-round.

Alternative food stores often sell Alfalfa seeds or sprouts.

Alternatively, you can also buy Alfalfa seeds at your local gardening store or online on Amazon.

2. Soak Alfalfa Seeds in Water for 6-8 Hours.

Soak the Alfalfa seeds in some water.

Make sure that the seeds are completely submerged in water.

3. Drain the Soaked Seeds and Rinse Them Thoroughly.

When draining the seeds make sure that you don´t accidentally spill any of the seeds.

I recommend using a filter when draining and rinsing the seeds to ensure that no seeds are lost.

Dump the seeds in the filter and run some fresh, cold water over them.

4. Place the Seeds in a Sprouting Tray or Jar, and Cover Them With a Damp Cloth.

You can use anything you like as a sprouting container.

I personally like using a plastic box with a lid but you can also use a jar. Just make sure to clean the container thoroughly before using it for growing Alfalfa sprouts.

You don´t need the lids yet, though. Right now you should only cover the container with a damp cloth.

5. Set the Tray in a Warm, Dark Place and Let Them Germinate.

Place the tray in a warm, dark place for 24 hours to allow the seeds to germinate.

Don´t worry if you don´t see any changes after 24 hours. It often takes multiple days before the seeds germinate.

6. After 24 Hours, Remove the Cloth and Rinse the Seeds Again.

As I mentioned above, don´t worry if the seeds haven’t germinated yet. You will repeat these steps multiple times until the seeds show some green.

7. Return the Tray to its Warm, Dark Location.

Return the tray to the warm, dark place.

8. Repeat Steps 6 and 7 Until the Sprouts are 1-2 Inches Long.

Repeat steps 6 and 7 until the sprouts are 1-2 inches long.

This usually takes several days.

9. Then Remove Them From the Tray and Place Them in a Container with Fresh Water.

Once the sprouts have reached their desired length, remove them from the tray and place them in a container of fresh water.

But don´t store them away just yet!

10. Allow the Sprouts to Soak for 30 Minutes, Then Drain and Rinse Them.

At this stage, you won´t need a filter anymore to drain and rinse the sprouts as they have become big enough so that they don´t wash away instantly.

11. Store the Sprouts in a Covered Container in the Refrigerator Until You’re Ready to Use Them.

When storing them in a covered container you can also wrap them in a damp cloth to keep them fresh but you don´t have to.

Even if you store them just like that they will stay fresh for at least a week.

How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts in the Garden

The steps as an overview:

  1. Buy Alfalfa seeds from a trusted source 
  2. Prepare the Soil by Loosening it and Adding Organic Matter
  3. Sow the seeds thinly in rows 4-6 inches apart.
  4. Cover the seeds with 1/4 inch of fine soil 
  5. Water gently with a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away 
  6. Keep the soil moist but not wet until the seedlings emerge.
  7. Once they have emerged, thin the seedlings so they are 4-6 inches apart 
  8. Fertilize alfalfa plants every 4-6 weeks with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 
  9. Harvest alfalfa sprouts when they are 2-3 inches tall.

1. Buy Alfalfa Seeds

Buy the alfalfa seeds either from your local grocery store or from a local gardening store.

2. Prepare the Soil by Loosening it and Adding Organic Matter

Put some soil in the place where you want to grow Alfalfa.

Alfalfa prefers full sun and a pH between 6.0 and 7.0

3. Sow the Seeds Thinly in Rows 4-6 Inches Apart

It is best to mark the rows with some string or by carving a small path in the soil first before sowing the seeds.

4. Cover the Seeds With 1/4 Inch of Fine Soil 

make sure that you don´t press the topsoil down too much.

It is best when the soil covering the seeds is soft.

5. Water Gently With a Fine Spray to Avoid Washing the Seeds Away 

Make sure that you don´t overwater the newly planted seeds.

It is best to use a spray bottle and apply enough water so that it will reach the seeds but won´t wash them away.

6. Keep the Soil Moist But Not Wet Until the Seedlings Emerge

The seedlings should emerge in 5-10 days after planting the seeds.

Make sure that you don´t water the soil too much until then. It is enough to keep the soil damp with a spray bottle.

7. Once They Have Emerged, Thin the Seedlings so They are 4-6 Inches Apart 

You can easily plug the seedlings from the soil by hand and then replant them simply by pushing them back into the soil.

This way you should be able to thin the seedlings quite fast.

Just be sure to handle the seedlings gently.

8. Fertilize Alfalfa Plants Every 4-6 Weeks With a Balanced Fertilizer Such as 10-10-10 

You can get 10-10-10 fertilizers that you mix with water. This is probably the easiest method to fertilize your Alfalfa plants.

Make sure to follow the packaging instructions accurately as over-fertilizing your plants can be harmful to them.

9. Harvest Alfalfa Sprouts When They are 2-3 inches tall.

Harvest alfalfa sprouts when they are 2-3 inches tall by cutting them just above ground level with scissors.

You can store the sprouts in a container with a lid in the fridge for about a week.

How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts in a Plant Pot

Planting Alfalfa Sprouts in a plant pot is very similar to planting them in the garden.

Here are the steps as an overview:

  1. Buy a planting pot, potting soil, and Alfalfa seeds from any local food store or order them online.
  2. Fill the plant pot with fresh, clean soil, leaving about an inch from the top of the pot.
  3. Wet the soil until it is damp, but not soggy.
  4. Sow the seeds thinly and evenly over the surface of the soil 
  5. Gently press the seeds into the soil 
  6. Place the plant pot in a sunny spot 
  7. Keep the soil moist but not soggy 
  8. When the sprouts are about 2-3 inches tall, cut them back to encourage new growth

I won´t cover all of the steps in detail again, as I already covered most of them in the section above. Growing alfalfa in a plant pot is mostly the same as planting them in the garden with only one major difference, the plant pot.

The plant pot can be any size you want just make sure that the seeds are spaced about 4-6 inches apart once they have emerged.

How to Use Alfalfa Sprouts

breakfast toast with avocado, poached egg and alfalfa sprouts

Alfalfa sprouts can be used in salads, sandwiches, and wraps. They can also be used as a garnish or side dish. 

Alfalfa sprouts can be brewed into tea, which is said to have many health benefits. Some of these benefits include aiding digestion, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system.

Alfalfa sprouts are also used in some esoteric practices, such as chakra balancing and energy work. The sprouts are said to represent new beginnings, growth, and abundance.

Facts About Alfalfa

A closeup shot of fresh and raw alfalfa sprouts
  • Alfalfa is a legume, and as such, it is high in protein and fiber.
  • Alfalfa is also high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium, iron, and magnesium.
  • Alfalfa sprouts were first cultivated in ancient Persia.
  • The name “alfalfa” comes from the Arabic word for “father of all foods.”
  • Alfalfa is often used as fodder for livestock, but it can also be eaten by humans.
  • Alfalfa sprouts are a common ingredient in salads and sandwiches.

Photo of author
Written By Vincent

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