Trifolium pratense – Red Clover

  • Luke 
red clover

red clover coverRed Clover, What is It? – Trifolium pratense is a plant with a wide range of benefits, if you’ve never heard of it you’re really missing out! In this article, I’m going to go in-depth about the many benefits and advantages of having Red Clover in your garden. Yep, red clover the plant widely considered a weed and pest, the plant once considered in the past to be an indicator of a “bad lawn”. I’m going to tell you why those statements wrong, and how red clover can be used to benefit a lawn, add nutrients to your garden, or even to soften your hard clay soil.

The way red clover root is structured it penetrates deep into the soil with a tap root, where it aerates tough soil, adds nutrients and finds moisture where most other plants would die from draught. In my opinion red clover is one of the most amazing plants I have encountered in nature. The way it adds nutrients to the soil is through multiple processes, the more simple process it uses is through the aforementioned tap root, through the use of its strong taproot it breaks up hard soil, and releases a lot of the pinned nutrients that were there, but couldn’t be used. It’s second used process is a little more complicated but just as amazing, it’s root system forms a symbiotic relationship with a type of bacteria in the Rhizobium genus. These bacteria form nodules on the roots, the bacteria in these nodules then take nitrogen from the atmosphere and put it into a form that the red clover can use to make proteins that help it grow. This process is known as nitrogen fixation.Close up red clover

At first, the red clover does not technically add nitrogen to the ground itself, it only makes more available, it starts adding nitrogen to the soil as it ages, and as the roots die and are replaced, these dead roots then become an almost fertilizer like substance in the soil. The nitrogen is then available to the plants around that clover plant, and to any critters eating below the surface.

In other words, this plant, naturally adds nitrogen to the ground and aerates/softens it. It makes use of nitrogen in the atmosphere to make its self healthier, but in the process helps you, and your garden. We personally grow clover in our yard, and when we are ready to plant, we till (bury) the clover into the soil, the clover degrades acting as an organic fertilizer for whatever we need to plant in a matter of days.

You would think that, that would be it, that there would be no other benefits, and that this plant is amazing as it is, but you would be wrong these plants have even more benefits that I will go through below.

It is EDIBLE, and it tastes GREAT! I’m not joking, in my opinion, the adult clover (not old but an adult) tastes like CANDY! I could easily see it being used in a wide variety of salads and dishes. It’s filled with vitamins, vitamins that benefit your future crop (if you’re going to plant food), and vitamins that benefit your health. Clover has too many health benefits to go through, and anyone on the internet could tell you that, instead I’m going to just say, buy some seeds, plant some clover, and see the benefits yourself! When you do you won’t regret it.

Some more advice: Red clover does not taste as palatable the older it gets, it also does not taste very great as a sapling, try to get it right when it turns into an adult if you want to eat it that is (I feel it’s too pretty to kill a lot of the time)! You can also give it to animals as a treat, or as a side food source. We feed our own organically grown red clover to our pet rats Algernon and Rattatoui, we also feed it to our pet hamster, and to our vermicomposting colonies. It is a great plant with a wide variety of uses.

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