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Lobelia Inflata (Indian Tobacco)
Alfalfa is a perennial legume that is native to Asia and introduced throughout much if the U.S. Being a legume, alfalfa is nitrogen-fixing, which means it forms a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that will draw nitrogen from the air and into the soil, which can benefit surrounding plants. The hay of this nutritious plant is used as cattle feed. It is one of the most cost-effective and easy to grow feeds. Alfalfa is eaten by humans as well, namely the sprouts. The seeds can be sprouted easily in paper towels or a glass jar with some cloth over the top, and they make a great addition to salads. Alfalfa is also sold as a dietary supplement in a number of different forms, although fresh material is the best. The plant is high in vitamins C, E, and K as well as several B vitamins. It is also a good source of fiber, protein, calcium and other minerals. Alfalfa has been used in herbal medicine for over 1500 years, including Chinese and Ayurvedic practices. It has been used for digestion, kidneys, arthritis, sore throat, anemia, appetite, cholesterol, menopause and energy levels. It is said to have diuretic properties and can help increase milk in pregnant mothers. Additionally, alfalfa is a source of antioxidants.
If simply sprouting for edible use, place your seeds in a quart-sized mason jar or similar container. Cover the opening with a screen, stocking or cheesecloth. This will act as a strainer. Fill the jar with water and allow the seeds to soak for 24 hours. The following day, drain the water and rest the jar on its side. Rinse the sprouts and pour the water back out once a day. Always keep the jar on its side after doing this. You should have nice green sprouts in a few days.
Alfalfa is fairly straightforward to grow but it is particular about its site. It needs a flat area with loose, well-draining soil that is free of weeds. The soil should be tilled well to ensure the roots can reach deep. A slightly alkaline soil is best. Avoid acidic, rocky or dry soils. Lime can be added to raise the ph of acidic soils. Sow the seeds evenly, then cover with a thin dusting of soil. Alfalfa requires high levels of potassium and nitrogen, and it should be watched for pests such as the alfalfa weevil, which can be controlled by biological means. Lacewing larva will attack most pests that you might encounter. The site should also be kept clear of any weeds that pop up.