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Using Bone Meal in the Garden

Using Bone Meal Fertiliser for Your Garden

This is our guide on using bone meal fertiliser in your garden. We will look at what it is, how it works, how to use it, and what the advantages and disadvantages of using bone meal are. Read on to find if you need bone meal for your garden and how to apply bone meal if you do require it to improve your soil condition.

Soil condition is a top priority for any garden. If your soil is not healthy and full of nutrients your garden will fail time and again. There are a lot of fertilisers you can use to improve your soil quality and thus improve the quality of your plants and increase the yield of your crops. Bone meal is an organic and environmentally friendly fertiliser that can help produce lush green foliage, beautiful vibrant colourful blooms and bountiful crops of fruit and vegetables. Bonemeal is very useful and necessary fertiliser for many gardens and we will look at it in more depth in this guide.

What is Bone Meal Fertiliser?

What is bone meal? It is exactly as it says, a ground meal made from bones. Bone Meal is made from animal bones, usually beef bones, which have been sterilised by cooking or steaming, and then ground down into meal or powder. This then becomes a very useful and effective organic soil amendment product that you can apply on plants and crops. Bones are obviously full of minerals and nutrients and these are ground down into meal for use as a fertiliser that is a great benefit to many plants and vegetables to help with stronger and healthier growth and development.

Bone meal is popular as a fertiliser because it is environmentally friendly and totally organic. It is very rich in nutrients and minerals that encourage strong healthy growth of crops and plants and it also improves the overall structure and quality of the soil. It is regarded as an essential source of nutrients to help plants develop strong healthy roots and to assist in bigger, healthier, colourful blooms. Bone meal has a rating of N-P-K, which means Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. It is for the Phosphorous that bone meal is most often used though it is also rich in vital Calcium and contains a trace of nitrogen.

If organic gardening is your thing then bone meal is definitely a fertiliser you should be interested in. Bone meal is rich in nutrients, especially Phosphorous, with traces of Nitrogen and Calcium. These nutrients are essential for some plants, for flowering and strong roots, and the organic matter of bone meal is also very good for the overall composition, fertility and structure of the soil. Even if you are not particularly interested in organic fertilisers bone meal is still very important for plants and soil. Read on to see if you need bone meal, and how you should apply it.

Benefits of Using Bone Meal

Bone meal is rich in Phosphorous. When the bones decompose in the soil the Phosphorous is released in a form that is easy for uptake by the plants. While it decomposes in the soil it also feeds microbes which in turn improves the overall soil structure and condition and this in turn improves the overall quality of the plants growing in the soil. Bone meal also helps to achieve a good balance of other nutrients in the soil giving plants a good balance of everything they require to thrive.

Bone meal is a slow release fertiliser which means that it breaks down slowly and provides a long term feed for your plants. As it is slow release you need only to apply it once a year and let it slowly do its work. It will feed plants over the long term, keeping them stronger and healthier for longer.

Here we list the benefits of using bone meal fertiliser in your garden.

Benefits of Bone Meal Fertiliser
Bone meal helps new plants develop stronger, healthier roots. This in turn means stronger healthier plants.
Bone meal provides essential nutrients for plants to help them flower with bigger, beautiful, colourful blooms.
Bone meal also provides essential nutrients, especially Nitrogen, for plants to help them develop lush green foliage.
Phosphorous helps to develop stronger, healthier plants by improving root growth, cell division and seed growth.
Phosphorous is essential for plant photosynthesis to improve root structure, plant growth, crop yield and reproduction.
Phosphorous is an important nutrient in developing healthier stems, leaves, flowers, crops, and seeds.
Bone meal organically encourages the development of microbes in the soil improving the overall quality, fertility and structure of the soil.
Bone meal is an organic fertiliser.
Bone meal is a slow release fertiliser giving it long term effects and benefits.
Phosphorous from bone meal is of a type that is easily absorbed by plants.
Bone meal is rich in Calcium which promotes stronger cells, better growth and bigger yields from vegetable crops.
Bone meal can contain Nitrogen which is another essential nutrient in developing stronger, healthier plants and a well-balanced soil.
Bone meal aids development of a well-balanced soil rich in a range of necessary nutrients for plants.
Bone meal can increase yield from fruit trees.
Bone meal can increase yield from fruit trees.
Bone meal can assist better growth and increase yield from tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, onions, leeks, garlic, carrots, parsnips, beets, potatoes, many other root crops and legumes.
Bone meal provides three main nutrients required for grass growth in lawns. Lawns have stronger and healthier growth with Phosphorous, Calcium and Nitrogen.

Should You Use Bone Meal?

If you are an organic gardener then bone meal is probably high on your list of fertilisers to use. If you want to improve soil condition, lawn grass growth and health, plant flowering and foliage colour or crop yield then bone meal is probably going to be very useful in your garden. If you are Vegan then bone meal is probably not suitable for you.

Some people may have concerns about bone meal and BSE as the bones are quite often beef bones. There are no problems with this though as there are rigorous processes to check all animals before processing and any animal testing positive with BSE is not used for any purpose, including in the making of bone meal. Of course the bones are thoroughly sterilised anyway before use as bone meal.

Using bone meal may be an issue for pet and child safety. While it is relatively safe for most use it can cause severe gastrointestinal illness if ingested in large amounts. This can be a particular issue with dogs who may be attracted to the smell of the bones. Dogs may try to dig up the garden to get at the bones they can scent. Eating too much bone meal is one of the most common causes of dog poisoning. Dogs can suffer with blockages in their stomach from eating too much bone meal. Always use and store bone meal safely. Bone meal may also attract other scavengers to your garden who may try to dig up the bones. Storing bone meal safely is an important issue to prevent dogs and scavengers attempting to get at it. This is why TRADE FARM NI bone meal is sold in a plastic tub with re-sealable lid to keep it stored safely from pets and scavengers.

Bone meal may not be required by every garden. If your soil does not have a phosphorous deficiency then bone meal will not be required. Also bone meal will not work if the pH level is 7 or higher. You will only get benefit from bone meal if the pH level is below 7 (slightly acidic soil). So it is important to check the soil to see if you require phosphorous and check the pH level to see if bone meal will be effective. A check around the stems of plants can signify a lack of phosphorus. If the stems have a purplish colour then they are probably in need of a feed of bone meal.

If using a liquid bone meal application you should be especially careful to avoid run off. If you apply phosphorus-rich fertilisers in liquid form they can run off and cause algae bloom in drains. This will not be an issue with TRADE FARM NI bone meal as it is not a liquid format and is not soluble.

Always apply bone meal in moderation. It is a slow release fertiliser so it lasts a long time and releases its benefits over a long period of time. So be careful and ensure you do not apply too much too frequently as over applying can result in burning the plants you want to feed.

Here is a list of the drawbacks of using bone meal fertiliser in your garden.

Drawbacks of Using Bone Meal Fertiliser
Bone meal is only required, and will only work, if phosphorous is deficient in your soil. It will not produce any benefit if there is sufficient phosphorous levels in the soil, indeed it may even cause harm to plants if used when not necessary. Always check soil nutrient levels before using.
Bone meal should only be applied to acidic soil with pH level below 7, it is of no benefit if used in alkaline soil with pH7 or higher.
Bone meal may attract dogs and scavenger animals who will be attracted to the smell of bones. They may dig up your garden to get at the bones.
Bone meal can cause stomach blockages in pets and also can cause gastrointestinal poisoning.
Bone meal should be stored safely to prevent pets or scavengers from getting access to it.
Liquid forms of bone meal can cause algae bloom from run off.
Bone meal should be applied once a year as it is slow release and thus works slowly for a long period of time.
Bone meal is not suitable for vegan gardeners.
Bone meal should be used in moderation. It is slow release so takes time to work and lasts a long time. Overuse can damage plants. Applying too much too often can have a negative impact on uptake of other soil nutrients.

When To Use Bone Meal?

Bone meal can be applied anytime throughout the year from February to November. It is however best used before planting so early spring time and late autumn are the ideal times for application of bone meal to help plants develop strong, healthy roots.

How To Use Bone Meal

If you have checked your soil and found that it is lacking in phosphorous and the pH level is less than ph7 and you have decided that bone meal will be required then read on to find out how best to apply bone meal to your soil.

When using bone meal on your soil you generally need to apply anywhere between 1.5KG and 4KG for every 10 square metres. It is always best to water before and after applying the bone meal to your soil.

Applying Bone Meal to a Lawn

Applying bone meal to your lawn is fairly straight forward. It is best practice to water the treated area before and after applying bone meal. The phosphorous will help to strengthen and fortify your grass as it grows, producing better growth. The calcium will help to condition the soil to provide a better growing environment for the grass. Nitrogen will encourage thicker, stronger, quicker blade growth for an all-round better lawn.

For seeding a new lawn prepare the soil as usual and then add bone meal, using 50 grams per square metre, and raking it into the soil to a depth of around 25cm. Water the area before and after applying the bone meal fertiliser.

For adding bone meal to an existing lawn it is best to apply on a dry calm day so it doesn’t blow about or wash away. This is best done for lawns in spring or autumn. It is always best to water the area before and after adding bone meal. Apply between 1.5KG and 4KG per 10 square metres. The best method is to apply crossways. First take half of the bone meal and apply north to south to cover the area to be treated, then take the other half and apply it crossways east to west to get a good even coverage. Plan your application carefully so you can avoid stepping on the bone meal too much. Once applied to the lawn water well to get the bone meal breaking down and working on your soil. If you have pets, especially dogs, they may be attracted to the bone meal and eat it which often causes blockages in the stomach and too much can be toxic to animals. The bone meal will release slowly and can take 4-6 months to show results.

Applying Bone Meal to Potted or Container Plants

To apply bone meal to potted plants we recommend using 130 grams – 160 grams per square metre for both new and existing plants.

For new potted plants add between 130 grams and 160 grams to the bottom of the planting hole. Mix well with the soil, and other compost if required, before refilling the hole.

For existing potted plants sprinkle between 130 grams and 160 grams to the soil around the plants. Gently fork or work into the soil while avoiding the bone meal touching the roots as this can burn the plants. Then water well.

Applying Bone Meal to Garden Flower Beds, Trees, Shrubs and Plants

To apply bone meal to new shrubs, flower beds or new plantings use about 130 grams to 145 grams per square metre. Apply it into planting holes to about 25cm depth and mix well with soil. Then water the area well.

To apply bone meal to existing trees, shrubs, flower beds and plants use about 130 grams to 145 grams per square metre. Apply it around the topsoil and fork into the soil without touching roots. Water well afterwards.

Applying Bone Meal to Vegetable Plots

For new plantings add about 70 grams per square metre and fork it well into the ground and then water well before planting any seeds.

For existing veg plots add around 70 grams per square metre and fork into the topsoil then water well.

Applying Bone Meal as Part of Soil Preparation or During Growing Season

Applying bone meal during soil preparation for planting is best done in late autumn or early spring to give the slow release fertiliser time to get to work. Apply to planting holes or dig down into the soil to a depth of around 25cm. Then mix well in the soil and then water thoroughly. You can also sprinkle the bone meal around the topsoil and fork into the soil and then water well to activate the fertiliser.

Applying bone meal to the soil during the growing season is easy to do. Sprinkle around the soil and fork into the soil without touching the roots of the flowers, plants, etc. Then water thoroughly. It is best applied in late autumn or early spring and given time to work as it is a slow release fertiliser. You can also apply about every 8 weeks during the growing season to ensure good soil fertility. You should test soil regularly for nutrient levels.

If bone meal is what you think you need for your garden then you can order our TRADE FARM NI GUARD-EN-FORCE brand Bone meal online here.

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