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Bone Meal: Should You Use It?

Bone meal is coarsely ground bone. Gardeners have used ground bone as a nutritional supplement for plants for centuries, and it continues to be widely used for this purpose. Many garden supply stores stock the meal for gardeners. Historically, it has also been used as an animal feed supplement, although this practice has been questioned by those concerned about food safety. Meal is a potential vector for bovine spongiform encephalitis and other spongiform diseases, and its use in animal feed has been banned in some regions for this reason.

Bones used in bone meal are generally obtained from slaughterhouses and rendering plants. Both conventional and organic bone meal are available, with organic products coming from slaughterhouses that handle organic meat. In addition to the basic meal, it is also possible to find bone meals that have been fortified with additional vitamins and minerals. The packaging usually indicates the balance of nutrients in the meal so gardeners know which product to choose for their needs.

This fertilizer product is rich in phosphorus and calcium, among others. It releases its nutrients slowly as it breaks down in the soil, making it a natural time-release fertilizer. It is classically used to prepare the soil for planting, usually by being raked into the ground or layered into a hole prepared for transplanting. Flour can also be used during bulb establishment, to provide nutrients to the developing bulb so that it becomes strong and healthy.

Companies produce bone meal in coarse and fine variations. The finer the grind, the faster the meal will break down and release its nutrients. Gardeners can also make their own by crushing and breaking bones and spreading or burying them in the garden. The advantage of completing is that it is uniformly ground and sterilized to eliminate potential pathogens, and the small grind makes it less attractive to animals.

Bone meal should not be applied to acid-loving plants, as it tends to make the soil more alkaline and can make these plants unhappy. It should also ideally be mixed with the soil, rather than piled on top of it, to promote nutrient dispersal in the soil. This product should be used with other soil amendments such as compost, mulch, peat moss, etc. to get the right balance of nutrients and texture in the soil.

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