Growing tomatoes can be among the most rewarding crops for any vegetable gardener to grow. However, once you begin growing them, you’ll find they are hungry plants and need many nutrients and ideal conditions to get a bumper crop from them.
As an organic source of nutrients, especially phosphorus, bone meal is a high recommendation for tomatoes and other vegetables.
Tomato plants thrive when soil is nutrient-rich and organic soils are used. Besides this, to get a good yield, they need an ideal amount of phosphorus, and when you use bone meal correctly, it aids the vigorous growth of tomato plants.
However, using bone meal can pose some risks when you don’t use it correctly. It is easy to add too much, or you can add it when your soil doesn’t need its addition. (Learn When to Fertilize Tomatoes)
In our guide, you can learn how to use bone meal in vegetable gardens to produce the best results from your crops throughout the growing season.
Can I Use Bone Meal on Vegetables?
Bonemeal is exactly as its name suggests. It’s a finely crushed meal made from animal bones. Commercially, they make bonemeal by boiling the bones of animals, which have been used for food.
Following this, the steamed bones are dried and pulverized to produce a fine powder. Bonemeal makes a great organic fertilizer you can use for vegetable growth.
Bonemeal contains 10 to 13 percent phosphates, though this can change based on the brand. Included nitrogen can range from 0.7% to 4%, phosphorus from 10% to 34%, while potassium is absent.
Because of this, it is a great source of phosphorus when you need phosphorus without lots of nitrogen or potassium. It also makes it an ideal complement to phosphorus-deficient fertilizers such as manure. (Find the Best Soil For Tomatoes)
Phosphorus is a nutrient all plants need to promote root growth, cell division, and seed growth in vegetable plants.
Some gardeners sprinkle bonemeal on their plants as they see blossoms emerge as they can aid flowering and fruit formation.
Other gardeners use it to alleviate deficiencies. If you have crops that are phosphorus-deficient, then your plants can have stunted growth. Once this happens, they mature slowly and appear to be far younger than they actually are.
Soil tests are the only means of understanding that your garden soil needs the addition of phosphorus. After you find out the phosphorus level of your garden soil, you will then need to compare it to the recommended values of any vegetables you wish to plant. (Read About Determinate Tomato Plants)
Potatoes, for instance, will be more significant feeders than grains, and sandy soils require more phosphorus than loam or clay soils.
The soil builders are among the plants which won’t benefit from the addition of bonemeal. Plants that fix nitrogen, like legumes, are soil builders.
Lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and broccoli are leafy green vegetable examples that use more nitrogen than phosphorus. However, root crops need phosphorus and also need potassium.
Is Bone Meal Good for Tomato Plants?
The bone meal when growing tomatoes can be highly advantageous and easy to do. All it takes is to add a cup of bone meal to each hole where you’ll plant your tomato plant. Add to this one cup of kelp meal, and you can give your plants a significant boost.
Adding kelp helps balance nutrition and vitamins, while bone meal adds phosphorus to the mix, which will help with flowering and fruiting.
A bone meal is a slow-release fertilizer that takes time to decompose and release nutrients into the soil. It is especially beneficial to root crops and flowering plants.
Bone meal is helpful as plants use nutrients to help with root growth, flowering, photosynthesis, and prevent blossom-end rot. Blood meal for tomatoes can burn plants should you add too much calcium into your soil. (Read Tomatoes Planting Spacing)
Bone meal is beneficial to plant roots and beneficial to flowering plants.
Humic acid can increase microbial activity and aids in water retention in sandy soils, and if you have clay soils, it helps with water drainage.
Eggshells are an additional slow-release form of calcium, and more calcium helps to prevent blossom end rot! Blossom end rot is among the most common disease in tomatoes. You will also find that blossom end rot is a sign of insufficient watering, and plants get too dry.
Seedlings can benefit from the addition of bonemeal, and it is often seedlings fed a mix of bonemeal and organic fertilizer spikes after transplanting during gardening. (Read About Tomato Blight Cure)
How Do You Apply Bone Meal to Tomato Plants?
Before adding bone meal to your soil, ensure you check your soil pH level. Should your soil be a pH higher than 7, bone meal won’t be absorbed by the plants.
If your plant thrives in an environment with a lower pH, try adding blood meal first, and then add your bone meal. If left out and consumed by dogs and raccoons among others, it can irritate them.
How much bone meal per tomato plant is straightforward. All you need to do is use a tablespoon for each square foot or container you have for your tomato plant. It can be a great addition to add to other flowers you have growing and fruiting crops.
It’s a good idea to add bone meal in the planting hole before you plant your flowers or vegetables as part of your garden bed soil preparation as it can help bolster new roots.
It is also ensuring your bone meal is mixed under the top couple of inches of soil to make sure animals can’t reach it.
What is the Best Fertilizer to Use on Tomatoes?
Choose a fertilizer that has a balanced ratio of the three major elements, such as 10-10-10, or where the middle number (phosphorus) is larger than the first number (nitrogen), such as 2-3-1. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and usually do need fertilizer unless your soil is very rich.
It is easy to make a potassium-rich compost fertilizer tea. Banana peels are a great source of potassium and, when you bury them, they release it slowly, which aids plant growth throughout the stages.
Collect a few banana peels, chop them into pieces and bury them in the soil. When you bury the banana pieces, you can push the pieces a couple of inches toward the roots or add them to the deep holes you dig when transplanting at the start of the season.
As your plant is growing, keep collecting banana peels and preparing your tea in a large container. Make sure you can cover it, so the smell doesn’t leak out or attract wild animals.
Here you can find out how to fertilize a tomato from a flower to ripe fruit. In this stage, your plant still requires nitrogen, although not in massive amounts. If your plant has grown well and with no signs of disease, then there’s no genuine need to add nitrogen into the soil.
Phosphorous is vital for healthy fruit, and potassium is also necessary, so you will need to keep adding a dose of your potassium tea on a regular weekly basis, but not more often. A gallon of the tea should last a week or two based on the number of plants you have growing.
Most of the garden soil contains sufficient amounts of phosphorous, yet it could reduce if you are growing one plant in a 5-gallon bucket.
If planted in the ground by now, your plant would have created a relationship with the heart to obtain the right amounts of phosphorous. However, you can add additional if your soil is lacking and your fruit isn’t developing as it should.
Most of this is something you learn as you start gardening, especially when you harvest and don’t get the rewards from your plants as you expect.
There is no harm in adding phosphorus-rich fertilizer inside the first year and if you purchase a tomato fertilizer, look for something like 8-32-16 at this point.
Tomatoes can be picky growers, and you can tell if they are deficient in anything by the looks of the leaf. A phosphorous deficiency can, for example, leave green veins and a faded leaf.
Thus adding bone meal half an inch deep in your trench can help your tomato step grow big and tall while still offering enough nutrients for the leaves to do their jobs.
With sufficient watering, you can feed your plants all they need to serve up a large crop come harvest time at the end of the growing season. (Learn What is Blood Meal)
If you want to go all out, when you add your plants to your garden, you can add a fish head to the bottom of your hole. As these fish heads decay, they add calcium and nitrogen.
However, bone meal can be easier o work with and get your hands on than a bucket full of fish heads.