When it comes to our plants, there’s no limit to what we’re willing to do for their growth. There are tons of ideas and tips out there that tell us how we can grow and let thrive our plants. If you’ve been gardening some time now, you know you’ll take any creative route just to make sure they are happy and healthy.
To achieve a lush garden, we know that garden soil is a top priority. There are plenty of fertilizers out there that can help us attain that healthy soil mix throughout the year. This growing season, we’re going to look at one particular fertilizer that’s quite interesting: bone meal fertilizer.
What is Bone Meal?
If you are new to gardening and just meeting this name for the first time, bone meal fertilizer is, essentially, what it is spelled out to be. It is a plant’s meal made from powdered or grounded up animal bones. The most commonly used are beef bones, although any animals commonly slaughtered will do.
Okay, are you still with us? Don’t worry, it’s not as wild as you might think. The process is quite sterile and involves boiling or steaming the bones and then pulverizing them to a fine powder.
There are other varieties of bone meal fertilizer including fish meal, blood meal, and bone meal fertilizer which is made up of fishbone and blood instead of beef bones.
This garden fertilizer has gained fans because it is rich in nutrients, with the kind of benefits needed for excellent garden soil.
Benefits of Using Bone Meal in the Garden
If you’re doubtful whether or not this type of fertilizer is best for your garden, below are some of the most significant benefits for your plants and soil.
1. Bone Meal is a Phosphorous-Rich Fertilizer
Phosphorus is a critical nutrient for the health of our plants. It affects the plant’s root growth, cell division, seed growth, and ensures that plants are not stunted.
Bone meal fertilizer is an excellent source of phosphorous as it contains 15% of the nutrient. And phosphorous in this organic fertilizer is the kind that can be easily absorbed by plants.
You can conduct a soil test to determine whether your soil lacks the nutrient phosphorous, or you can even check on the coloring around the stems of your plants. A purplish hue signifies that you need to feed them some bone meal!
2. Bone Meal Is Full of Calcium
We all know that calcium makes for healthy bones. So with bone meal fertilizers, you know you’ve got plenty for your plants.
Phosphorus and calcium are two nutrients that are extremely important for your vegetable garden. This will give you better and healthier yields from vegetables like tomatoes, zucchinis, and peppers.
For indoor plants, calcium also promotes new growth in roots and stems.
3. Bone Meal May Contain Nitrogen
Most pre-made bone meal fertilizers often add nitrogen to the mix. This is another component needed to create a well-rounded soil amendment.
Great products like Miracle-Gro have 15-30-15 fertilizer. This means that the powder contains 15 percent nitrogen, 30 percent phosphorus, and 15 percent potassium. These three are essential nutrients needed by plants.
4. Bone Meal Acts as a Balance for other Soil Amendments
Compost and manure are good soil amendments, but they are often high in nitrogen and low in other nutrients.
What your plants need from the soil is a balance with nutrients not overpowering each other. Adding bone meal helps attain that balance for your garden to grow.
5. Bone Meal is Best for Organic Gardening
From an organic gardening point of view, bone meal fertilizer improves the soil structure.
What we need is a high concentration of beneficial soil microbes. The presence of this makes the soil more nutritious and fertile for plants to grow strong roots. And this kind of health speeds up growth and strengthens the root systems.
6. Bone Meal is a Slow Release Fertilizer
For plant parents who have a tendency to forget schedules and cycles, bone meal fertilizer is the best choice. Remember that this is your plant’s food. You can apply it once because it takes about four months to break down. This way, you are giving your plants a steady meal of phosphorus throughout the growing season.
7. Bone Meal Strengthens Flowering Plants
If you have flowering plants in your garden or with your indoor plants, consider adding bone meal fertilizer. With phosphorus fed to your blooming plants like roses, you will enjoy bigger and healthier blooms and bulbs.
You can also apply bone meal to your fruit-bearing plants to yield better results.
How to use Bone Meal
If you’re convinced that organic bone meal is the ultimate fertilizer for your garden, don’t go grabbing those bags of animal bones just yet. First, you need to have your soil pH tested.
Note that the effectiveness of the phosphorus on bone meals drops significantly, depending on the pH level of the soil. You need the soil to have a pH lower than 7 before you can add bone meal; otherwise, your bone meal fertilizer will not work.
After you have ensured that your soil pH is up for the task, prepare your garden. Ideally, you should be adding bone meal to the soil or compost pile before the plant to help maximize its nourishing effects.
You can mix rotted manure, which is a healthy source of nitrogen, with organic bone meal fertilizer to achieve a well-balanced soil. You can also add a few tablespoons to the bottom of the planting hole before placing your plant.
The standard portioning remains at the rate of 10 pounds or 4.5 kilograms for every 100 square feet of the garden.
Alternatively, add ½ cup per cubic foot of potting soil or apply one pound per inches of trunk diameter for trees, spread evenly from the trunk. Wait for four months before you reapply. That’s the beauty of a slow-release organic fertilizer.
Reasons why You shouldn’t use Bone Meal
Of course, like with most garden-related products, there are safety concerns we should always be mindful of when we use bone meal, especially for the security of our children and pets.
According to the Animal Poisoning Control Center (ASPCA), ingesting fertilizers are one of the top ten causes of pet emergencies. Naturally, dogs are attracted to the animal scent of bone meal and will mistake it for food.
If they end up eating too much of it, it will cause a blockage in their bellies. Experts recommend that the fertilizer be thoroughly blended with the soil, so it doesn’t clump.
This phosphorus-rich fertilizer, if not mixed well, also tends to run into the water systems and may trigger an algae bloom. While it is natural and organic, we advise that you still monitor your use.
Finally, one reason that scares people out of using bone meal is the connection to beef cattle. Some wonder whether the powder can cause Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Mad Cow Disease.
There are two reasons why this is not possible. First, the products available commercially undergo a rigorous process to ensure that all animals are disease-free.
Second, plants cannot absorb mad cow disease molecules. If a person is truly scared of getting infected, at the very least, they can wear a mask when feeding this product in the garden. But still, the chances of this disease is highly improbable.
What are some good Bone Meal Fertilizer brands?
Are you ready to add bone meal to your gardening and planting life? Get yourself some quality and affordable bone meal fertilizers from trusted brands.
1. A trusted brand for gardeners.
2. People and Pet Safe “When used as directed.”
3. OMRI labeled for organic use.
4. Helps increase beneficial soil microbes
Bone Meal Fertilizer FAQs
What plants benefit from bone meal?
Phosphorus plays an important role in flowering and rooting development. Bone meal is phosphorus-rich and is best used to fertilize flowering plants such as roses, tulips, dahlias, and lilies. Plants like root crops such as radishes, onions, and carrots, and other bulbs also benefit from bone meal. Use bone meal to mix with gardening soil of the right pH balance.
What is bone meal fertilizer good for?
It is used as an organic fertilizer for plants. As a slow-release fertilizer, bone meal is an excellent source of phosphorus, calcium, and nitrogen. It balances other soil amendments and is rich in protein.
What is in bone meal fertilizer?
Bone meal is a mix of finely and coarsely ground animal bones. Beef bones are the most commonly used for this product. But there are also blood meals available and fish meals made out of fishbone.
Can too much bone meal kill plants?
For as long as you follow the instructions of fertilizing your soil, this should not hurt your plants. Ensure that your soil is tested for the proper soil pH level. Ensure that it is lower than 7 before you mix it. The rule of thumb is to apply one tablespoon per two square feet of soil. On a bigger scale, that is 10 pounds for every 100 square feet of your garden.