Can Bonemeal Be Used As a Vegetable Fertilizer?

Written by melanie watts
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Can Bonemeal Be Used As a Vegetable Fertilizer?
Use bonemeal with another fertiliser for a crunchy cabbage harvest. (cabbage on vegetable garden image by Pavel Klimenko from Fotolia.com)

Bonemeal is made from the sterilised ground up bones of animals from slaughterhouses. It is a white powdery substance used as a fertiliser in gardens. Bonemeal is not a complete food. Use it with another fertiliser if you want to grow a successful vegetable garden.

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What It Contains

Bonemeal contains mostly calcium and phosphorus. Phosphorus is one of the three major nutrients required by plants -- the others are nitrogen and potassium. Calcium is needed in much smaller amounts for plant growth. When used in conjunction with another fertiliser, such as well-rotted manure that contains high levels of nitrogen, as well as phosphorus and potassium, bonemeal could be a good supplement for your vegetable garden.

Benefits of Bonemeal

Plants use phosphorus for cell growth and the development of roots, flowers and fruit. In the vegetable garden the phosphorus present in bonemeal would be beneficial at the beginning of the season, when plants are developing their root systems. Some plants such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and melons suffer from a condition known as blossom-end rot, the decay of fruit starting near the blossom end, caused by insufficient calcium. Bonemeal may be of some benefit to correct this deficiency in the soil.

How Bonemeal Works

Fast-growing plants like vegetables need a constant supply of nutrients to keep them healthy. The nutrients present in bonemeal are insoluble in water. They must be converted into a form that plants can use by the microorganisms in the soil. This takes time. The benefits to the plants will not be immediate, but the nutrients from slow-release organic fertilisers like bonemeal are released little by little over time and are constantly available for your fast-growing vegetable plants.

How To Use

Read the instructions on the box before adding bonemeal to your vegetable garden. Do a soil test to see if your soil is deficient in any nutrients before adding bonemeal. High levels of phosphorus found in bonemeal may compromise the growth of some vegetables like leafy greens that are grown primarily for their leaves.

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