Alliance Bank in Sulphur Springs

Bone Meal in The Garden From Master Gardener David Wall

May 5, 2024 – We’ve discussed the advantages of using crushed/powdered egg shells in the garden particularly for tomato plants. It works great but does involve effort and time. Tomatoes need calcium to help prevent blossom end rot. What many fail to recognize is that the bigger the fruit, the more calcium they need as well as phosphorus and potassium. So, how do we get the calcium without the extra effort?

Bone meal is a made from boiled or steamed bones and then pulverized. The finished product is rich in nutrients. Most bone meal comes from cattle bones, but just about any bones will work. An advantage of bone meal is approximately 15% of it is phosphorus in an easily used form for by the vegetable plant.

Calcium is also in a form readily available for the vegetable plant. We’re primarily concerned with tomato plants, but make no mistake, pepper plants can benefit from bone meal usage.

An added benefit is that bone meal may contain from less than 1% to 4% nitrogen. Weak nitrogen levels are good, because we want to get the most and best fruit without excess plant growth.

Also, bone meal is acceptable in an organic garden. It’s a slow-release product, meaning the vegetable plants can use it as its nutrients are released. It also means you can use it once and not have to worry about having to reapply more later.

Some words of caution. If the soil pH is 7.0 or higher, bone meal is useless. The product should be lightly tilled (blended) into the garden soil so its scent doesn’t attract animals, as ingestion could cause medical problems.

Use bone meal sparingly; one tablespoon in the transplanting hole, or 2 tablespoons around the plant after transplanting. The product will slowly break down over the next four months.

Author: Matt Janson

Share This Post On