TRUE Blog #33

4 Things You Didn't Know About Using Bone Meal in Your Garden

October 11, 2022

Single-ingredient plant foods can make a huge impact in your garden. Why? Because they contain high concentrations of specific nutrients that plants need.

Let’s take a look at one of our most powerful single-ingredient plant foods: True Organic Bone Meal.

What Is Bone Meal?

Bone Meal is a nutrient-rich soil amendment made from ground animal bones, processed into a fine powder that can be easily applied to soil like any other granular plant food. It has a complex, potent makeup of nutrients that go a long way for soil and crops.

So what’s it good for? Bone Meal, which only needs to be applied to soil once in Spring and once in Fall, is celebrated for helping flowering and fruiting plants. 

1: Bone Meal is a power-house provider of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Single-ingredient plant foods like True Organic Bone Meal are powerful supplements for plants and soil that can resolve problems in your garden caused by specific soil nutrient deficiencies. 

Bone Meal doesn’t have a balanced nutrient profile — meaning that it’s not evenly distributing the “big three” nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to soil like many of our multi-ingredient granular blends

What is does deliver is a big boost of phosphorus and nitrogen! That means Bone Meal (like our organic Blood Meal and Seabird Guano) is best used in situations where you know exactly what the soil needs — in other words, what it’s lacking.

Bone Meal delivers a strong supply of these two big nutrients: 

Nitrogen, which is essential to many factors of a healthy plant — and all of life on the planet! For one, nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll, the compound that allows plants to photosynthesize.

Phosphorus is an all-around plant supporter! It’s essential to support photosynthesis, rooting, flowering, seed production, and other vital functions. When soil is deficient in phosphorus, plants will have trouble flowering, fruiting, and seeding.

This makes Bone Meal an excellent choice for gardens with low-nitrogen soil, for flower gardens, and for gardeners hoping to produce lots of vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes, and root crops like beets, carrots, and potatoes.

(Macronutrients are the elements that plants need in large quantities to build cells, grow, fruit, root, and survive. Micronutrients are needed in smaller quantities.) 

Pro tip: It's a great idea to do a soil test to assess if you need Bone Meal for your garden. Learn about soil testing in our interview with Margaret McCoy, PhD, our resident soil doctor. 

2: It gives plants a needed boost of other macronutrients.

While you might immediately look at the N-P-K ratios of fertilizers as “headliner” macronutrients, plants also require smaller doses of other minerals to thrive. And Bone Meal contains a bunch of ‘em!

Calcium! As you can imagine, calcium is one of those nutrients supplied by Bone Meal. Calcium is a secondary macronutrient that helps plants build strong cell walls and grow robust roots. Therefore, Bone Meal is great for your root veggies — beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.

Calcium also helps prevent blossom end rot — which makes Bone Meal an excellent food for tomatoes.

Zinc and magnesium, two small-but-mighty nutrients, support overall plant health and are essential for photosynthesis. Zinc helps with chlorophyll production and magnesium supports photosynthesis.

Altogether, the nutrients in Bone Meal support fruit and flower production, strong roots, and all-season vitality. 

3: Bone Meal only needs to be applied twice a year for sustained support.

The major nutrients in True Organic Bone Meal are released gradually over time, so this supplement feeds your garden (soil and plants) long-term. 

We recommend applying Bone Meal to your soil once in Spring (before planting) and once in Fall (at the end of your season). This powerful plant food will feed your plants all season long!

Remember, this isn’t a supplement intended for “quick fixes.” When you use True Organic Bone Meal, you’re forming a long-term relationship with your soil. The nutrients in Bone Meal can take a few months to break down and be available for your crops.

Ehsan Toosi, PhD, our Director of Research & Development, calls Bone Meal a “sustained release” supplement. “It supports plants for the growing season and the next season.” 

While this plant food is definitely not fast-release, the supply of certain nutrients (particularly calcium and phosphorus) depends on how finely ground the “meal” is and what type of bone is used, says Toosi. So keep in mind that using various brands of Bone Meal may yield different results!

4: True Organic Bone Meal is sustainable and certified food safe.

Just like every other True Organic plant food, our Bone Meal is certified food safe by Bureau Veritas, the highest standard in testing, inspection, and certification services. Read more about our food safety practices and what that means for you.

Of course, we know you’d never intentionally consume plant food! But think of it this way: what you apply to your edible garden will eventually end up on your dinner plate.

Along with being food safe, True Organic Bone Meal diverts animal waste from slaughterhouses, turning it into an organic, chemical-free addition to healthy soil which means a healthier ecosystem.

By utilizing a natural by-product that might otherwise become waste and feeding your crops with organic plant food, you’re working double-duty to develop a more sustainable lifestyle. Way to go!

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