The Myth of Adding Bone Meal

January 10, 2019 – A Gardener’s Journal –

Winter is a great time to catch up on your reading but unfortunately the internet is filled with some gardening misinformation and blatant myths.

Adding bonemeal in the planting hole is just one of those gardening myths. This is a scientifically proven gardening myth – “Add a handful of bone meal to the planting hole before installing shrubs, trees and perennials”.

This myth may be a hard one for many of you to swallow, but this information is the result of scientific studies conducted by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott. Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulturist, Author of the book, The Informed Gardener, and she is Associate Professor, Puyallup Research and Extension Center at Washington State University.

The scientific facts simply outlined:

  1. Bonemeal mostly contains high levels of calcium and phosphorus which are usually never deficient in nonagricultural soils.
  2. Phosphorus is a mineral and minerals do not stimulate plant growth.
  3. High levels of phosphorus inhibit growth of mycorrhizal fungi which are neccessary in healthy root growth.

I always add a solution of mycorrhizal fungi when planting to quickly increase root growth. The brand we use and sell at Plant Paradise Country Gardens is Root Rescue.

Here is our complete planting instructions for organic gardening:

  1. Dig hole
  2. Add worm castings or compost into the hole
  3. Mix with your existing soil
  4. Re-dig the hole
  5. Place plant in the hole
  6. Mix 1 tsp. of Root Rescue (mycorrhizal fungi) with water in a 7 liter watering can.
  7. Pour some of the Root Rescue solution on the roots in the hole
  8. Cover half way with soil
  9. Use a mug/scoop and add a circle around the plant with the Gaia Green 4-4-4 Organic Fertilizer.
  10. Cover with soil to the top.
  11. Water in with more Root Rescue
  12. Yearly fertilize with Gaia Green Fertilizer 4-4-4 and top dress your gardens with worm castings or compost.

Please note: The Root Rescue is applied only once to a plant, perennial, annual, vegetable, shrub or tree. When plants are moved or divided the Root Rescue should be reapplied. It can be applied when planting or to an existing garden that has never had Mycorrhizal fungi applied.

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Lorraine Roberts
Lorraine Roberts is a lifelong organic gardener, environmental advocate and educator for sustainable gardening methods, horticulturist, garden designer, photographer and author of two books: A Recipe for Continuous Bloom & Spectacular Plant Combinations for the Perennial Garden. Lorraine and her husband Robert are the creators and owners of the multi-award winning botanical garden and organic perennial nursery - Plant Paradise Country Gardens located in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. Every spring you'll find Lorraine in the greenhouse potting the thousands of perennials they grow and sell at Plant Paradise Country Gardens.

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