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Skip the Bonemeal

Fall means bulb planting and for many gardeners it means breaking out the bone meal to get them well-rooted and growing. Consider skipping the bone meal. You’ll save money and have better long-term results in the garden. 

Bone meal is composed mainly of calcium and phosphorus. Most garden soils have plenty if not excessive amounts of these. Adding more is not helpful and can be harmful.

Excessive levels of phosphorus can inhibit mycorrhizal fungi connections with the plant roots.  This relationship helps plants efficiently absorb water and nutrients from the soil. When these connections don’t exist plants must expend their energy reserves on water and nutrient absorption and they are not available for other important functions.

You can’t remove the excess phosphorus from the soil, but you can stop adding to the problem. Select phosphorus and calcium-free fertilizers unless your soil test indicates they are deficient.

A bit more information:  Recent research on Milorganite, a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, found it helps put these excess levels of soil phosphorus and potassium to work. As the soil microorganisms released the nutrients from the Milorganite, some of the phosphorus and potassium bound to the soil was made available for plants to use.

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