Bone Meal

Bone meal is a valuable source of phosphorus and calcium in the garden.



Have you ever wondered what Jack and the Beanstalk meant when he said, “I’ll grind his bones to make my bread”?  


According to an article published in 1823 England by The Investigator, ‘more than a million bushels of human and inhuman bones were imported last year from the continent of Europe into the port of Hull.’  Pioneering scientists and horticulturists alike recognized the value of bone meal as fertilizer–even before the invention of modern day synthetic fertilizers.  Although the use of human bones seems gruesome, early horticulture pioneers saw the benefits of bone meal fertilizer and continued to refine the process.  By 1842, a man named John Lawes recognized that bones soaked in acid before being ground up were superior to those that were merely dried and ground.  The acidification of the bones made the nutrients in the bones more plant available.


Today, human bones are not used for fertilizer in horticulture.  The bones that end up in your bag of Bone Meal fertilizer were animals meant for human consumption.  At the slaughterhouse, fat and muscle is removed from the animal.  The bones are then gathered and transported to a processing facility where they are steamed or boiled to remove any additional animal fat and make processing easier.  The result is a sterilized, calcium and phosphorus rich plant food.  The bones are ground up, sometimes into a very fine powder, and put into your fertilizer bag.  


Benefits:  Bone meal has many benefits to the gardener and has been a staple in organic gardening for quite some time.

  • Bone meal is a slow release fertilizer.  This means that it breaks down slowly within the soil providing long term fertility.  
  • While not every source of bone meal is organic gardening approved, there are countless brands that supply an organic certified source.  Always check the label of the product you are purchasing to verify its organic certification (if that is important to you).
  • Bone meal is calcium rich.  Plants need calcium for several biological functions but primarily in cell wall formation.  Calcium helps to prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes and peppers and tip burn in lettuce.  
  • Bone meal can help to balance high nitrogen fertilizers/ manures. 
  • Applications of Bone Meal will encourage: higher yield, stronger root systems, big blooms!

Bone Meal Loving Plants:

  • Roses
  • Dahlias
  • Tulips & other bulb flowers
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Garlic 
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Beets
  • Potatoes


Will you be using bone meal in your garden this year? Stop by 111 S Broadway in Belgrade, MT for all of your organic fertilizer needs.


Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *