Blood meal and bone meal for plants are two effective fertilizers that are incredibly high in essential nutrients and proteins. When it comes to organic fertilizers for organic garden soil, there are many options. Since they’re typically slow-release fertilizers, you’re not usually at risk of over-doing it.
However, blood meal is a unique mix for the soil that offers high amounts of nitrogen. Let’s explore what it is, and how it differs from bone meal for organic gardening.
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What is Blood Meal?
Blood meal is a dried, inert powder made from animal blood, which is used as a nitrogen amendment for garden soil. The fertilizer is a slaughterhouse by-product, typically made from cow’s blood, but it can also come from hogs.
Blood meal fertilizer is extremely high in nitrogen. It contains about 13.25% nitrogen content, 1.0% of phosphorous, and 0.6% of potassium. Apart from its impressive nutrient content for plants, blood meal is a non-synthetic, high-protein animal feed.
Use blood meal in your garden if your plants are deficient in nitrogen, which inhibits photosynthesis. Common symptoms include yellowish or pale green leaves and weak plant growth. Leaves of the plant – in this condition – are known as chlorotic as they can’t make their own chlorophyll.
Thankfully, blood meal can quickly replenish the nitrogen content of the soil. At best, an application will keep the plant fruiting or flowering while keeping it green and lush. Apart from fertilizer, blood meal is frequently used to deter certain types of animal pests from the garden.
If your plant is vulnerable to deer, moles, or squirrels, using blood will keep them away due to its unpleasant smell. However, if used excessively, too much blood meal adds too much nitrogen in the soil, which may nitrogen-burn plants or kill the plants. Therefore, it’s essential to use blood meal fertilizer in moderation.
Benefits Of Using Blood Meal In Your Garden
There are many known benefits of using blood meal for growing stronger roots and encouraging greener, healthier blooms. Above all, it is an affordable, organic option that serves as a quick nutrient-booster of nitrogen. Here’s why gardeners love blood meal:
1. Rich Source of Nitrogen
Bone meal provides a rich, consistent source of nitrogen to the soil and the plants. High nitrogen levels can increase the acidity of the soil, which is excellent for crops like squash, peppers, radishes, and onions. If you have a vegetable garden, your soil will need nitrogen rapidly to nourish the roots. Therefore using blood meal and bone meal together can be highly effective.
2. Improve Soil Quality
Another great benefit of blood meal is that it helps balance and heal the soil. During the growing season, your gardening bed can quickly run out of essential nutrients as the plants need it. Once you add blood meal, the soil returns to its natural balance and continues to nourish the roots.
3. A Lush, Attractive Garden
Gardeners notice a visible difference in the greenery of their plants after blood meal enrichment. High in nutrients, blood meal fertilizer helps produce incredibly lush, plentiful, and deep-green foliage. Blood meal is ideal for adding a long-lasting depth of color to your green space. And who knows, that might just beckon colorful birds and butterflies as well!
Blood meal is even better for vegetable gardens with greens like kale, Brussel sprouts, and lettuce. These veggies are nitrogen-hungry and require this nutrient for plant growth.
4. Balances out Nitrogen to Carbon Ratio
If you’re using compost piles for soil enrichment, you can add blood meal to equalize the carbon to nitrogen ratio. The brown material in the compost, like wilted, dried leaves, paper or straw, all contain carbon. Using blood meal ensures a balanced dose of nutrients to the soil and plants.
How to Use Blood Meal
A good baseline application rate of blood meal is one cup for every twenty square feet, but a soil test is necessary.
Before adding blood meal, identify the qualities of your existing soil. By analyzing your soil with a good soil test kit, you can find out the nutrient content and pH level.
Blood is best applied in spring to ensure the proper growth of vegetables, flowers, and plants. The good thing about blood meal is that you only need to add a little to reap its benefits.
There are two ways to add blood meal. You can mix it directly into the top inches of the soil or dilute it with water before adding it. Make sure to read the package instructions to find out which one is recommended by that particular company.
If you think the soil needs more, feel free to increase the amount, but it’s always better to not overdo it. Remember, excess nitrogen can burn plants at their roots.
Bone Meal vs. Blood Meal
While there are many options for organic fertilizers, gardeners often find themselves confused between blood meal and bone meal. Both come from animals, so they’re incredibly safe and organic. However, they provide different nutrient contents to the soil and the plants.
Bone meal is a finely ground mixture of steamed animal bones and is extremely rich in calcium and phosphorus. It’s used as an organic fertilizer for flowering plants like bulbs and roses as it helps in vibrant, lush, and plentiful growth.
Like blood meal, bone meal is also a slow-release fertilizer, but bone meal is used for increasing phosphorus in the soil. There’s very little chance of burning or killing off the plants from over-application. However, if you’re looking for a quick boost of growth from an organic fertilizer, you might be a little disappointed.
As it’s quite high in phosphorus, bone meal is used explicitly for healthy root development. It quickly enriches the soil with the ‘P’ nutrient for flourishing blooms and healthy roots. With bone meal, a little bit goes a long way. All you need is a tablespoon for every two square feet.
If you’re planting in the fall, add ½ teaspoon of bone meal to the backfill soil to ensure vibrant blooms in the spring. You can also add bone meal to top three inches of the soil during spring. Remember a soil test can assist you in knowing amounts to add.
Blood meal, too, provides a necessary amount of nitrogen, without which plants can’t grow. Nitrogen is a fundamental component for plant cell growth and helps in producing lush foliage.
Blood meal is especially useful if you’re using the same gardening bed year after year. Most plants tend to deplete the soil of essential nutrients. Therefore, in the long-term, blood meal application is an effective way to maintain proper nutrient content.
Both bone meal and blood meal act as potent nutrient amendments, and together, they work even better.
Is Blood Meal a Good Fertilizer Choice?
Yes, it’s an excellent organic fertilizer. However, it’s not balanced. It exclusively provides high nitrogen levels, which can hamper fruiting and flowering. It’s also a slow-release fertilizer, which is not a quick fix if you want to see growth in a few weeks. However, if you want a consistent, steady supply of nitrogen, your plants will love it.
Is It Economical?
Blood meal is an extremely affordable and organic source of essential nutrients that promotes healthier soil. You only need a little at a time, so whatever amount you buy will probably last you for a long time. You can buy pounds of blood meal for as little as $10-15, and it’ll last for a long time.
Is It Safe to Use This Animal Product?
As long as the blood is derived from healthy animals, blood meal is mostly safe. Try not to use fertilizer companies that source from places suspected of poor animal welfare or lax food processing laws. There could be pathogens in the meal that may seep into the soil, so make sure you’re only using blood meal that’s high-quality and organic (see our recommendations).
What Are Some Substitutes For Blood Meal?
Although bone meal is not a substitute for blood meal, it can be used in the form of bone meal powder for plants. You can also use fish fertilizers, alfalfa meal, and feather meal. You can also find many vegan-friendly options if you prefer organic fertilizers without animal products.
Where to Buy
You won’t have to go far. Good quality blood-meal can be found in your local nursery, animal feed store, or even Home Depot. You can also search online, but make sure they’re all locally sourced. This is because most blood meal that’s stocked online may be coming from countries with poor animal practices.
Our Top Recommendations for Blood Meal
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is blood meal good for?
A: It’s an excellent source of nitrogen for soil health, and the plants grown within that soil.
Q: What is blood meal made of?
A: Blood meal is dried blood that is powdered and produced for fertilizing plants. It’s often a byproduct of meat packing plants and consists of cow blood.
Q: Can you sprinkle blood meal on top of soil?
A: You can, but it will be more bio-available to plants if it’s worked into the top few inches of the soil.
Q: How much blood meal to add to soil?
A: It depends on the space you’re working in. For side dressings and new transplants, a teaspoon or two mixed into the top few inches of the soil, or spread evenly in the planting hole works. For larger areas, apply blood meal at 2 to 3 lbs per 100 square feet.
Q: How often do you fertilize with blood meal?
A: There’s no hard and fast rule here, as every plant has different nutritional needs, and every soil profile does too. For consistent applications during the growing season, give your soil a little bit every 2 to 3 months.
Q: What does blood meal add to soil?
A: It provides nitrogen to soil, but only apply it during the growing season.
Q: Does blood meal repel deer?
A: It does deter deer, due to its unpleasant smell.
Q: Does blood meal keep squirrels away?
A: Like deer, squirrels don’t like the smell of blood meal.