In my first decade of gardening, I thought I needed every soil amendment I heard about. You name it. I needed it. Blood meal and bone meal were on the list.
Finally after about a decade, I came to my senses and realized that I didn’t need all that stuff. All I needed to do was add organic materials that decayed and became organic matter.
Also, adding blood meal and bone meal or any other product to the soil without really knowing whether you need it or not is courting trouble. Nature loves perfect balance. Too much or too little and you’ll get poor results.
(I add the organic material and let nature balance the scales for me. I like keeping it simple. And it’s just not necessary to make it complicated unless you want to.)
But there is another reason that I would not use any meals made from animal carcasses.
Here’s the Reason
It never ceases to amaze me what is considered perfectly normal by the conventional meat industry. Take for example, feeding cattle other ground up cattle.
Oh wait – that’s not right anymore. The USDA came to the rescue and banned cows being fed to other cows in 1997 in the hopes it would stop Mad Cow Disease (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy – BSE for short).
Cows are now fed other ground up animals like hogs. Aren’t you relieved?
Supplementing a Cows Diet?!!!?
One article I read said, “Yes, cattle are grazing creatures, but their diets may be supplemented with protein from another animal source.”
I would like to wager that in all the centuries before “modern” man came up with this perverted way to save money and dispose of an excess, that you would NEVER see cows eating other animals. Their digestive system is designed to digest grass. Nutritionally speaking cows can get all they need from grazing as nature intended.
That would seem like a no-brainer to me.
What Causes Mad Cow Disease
Mad Cow Disease is caused by a non-living protein called a prion. When cows ingest other cows or other cud-chewing animals that have the prion they can get the disease. When humans ingest animals that have this prion, they can get a human version of the disease.
As it turns out, when animals with the prion are ground up in the feed mills, it is difficult to clean the prion off the equipment. So when they grind up hogs to feed to cows, the prion could still be on the equipment and transferred to the meat.
Of course, if you read information that you can follow back to government or the meat industry, it will assure you that your chances are slim to none for ingesting one of these prions.
And I’m sure they would say that chances of getting it from bone meal or blood meal are even less.
(Just for the record, I wouldn’t want to take the chance even if the odds were 1 in a million.)
If cows eat only grass as they should, they will NEVER get Mad Cow Disease.
Since I don’t buy the products of the conventional meat industry, I won’t have to concern myself about even a remote possibility of getting the human version of the disease.
Decisions Made Easy – Compliments of Nature
Nature has a great track record for being correct. If we follow her example, it sure makes life and decisions a lot easier.
Gardening – Keep it Simple Because It Is
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I too always used bonemeal–especially in the fall when planting bulbs. After reading your posts the past couple of years, I decided to skip the bonemeal. Maybe it’s because my soil has been getting better each year, or the garlic cloves I save each year are getting used to my area, but the garlic has been getting a little better every year. This bonemeal-less year was no exception! The garlic cloves overall were a little bigger again this year even without the bonemeal.
Another plus–no critters digging up your garden to feast on the blood- and bonemeal.
So in this case Theresa, complete disengagement from this industry is really the only way to be totally safe – restaurants, garden supplies, supermarkets, etc.
It’s funny Theresa, I have young kids as you know. We often read these sweet books from the library which explain about farmers, or talk about, “Life on the Farm” even the geography books that have an illustration of Iowa would show happy animals in an outdoor environment. Often we follow a supermarket truck making a delivery. Beautiful bucolic pictures of animals and plants being grown properly adorn the truck. Then…….
When I explain the reality of mainstream farming practices to my kids, they are totally shocked – it’s almost hard to make them believe me. They think I’m making the horrors up!!!
The difference between what our library books show and what we would like to think farms are like, is stark.
We’ve really messed thing up badly.
Thank you, Theresa for your great site! I too have quit using both bone meal and blood meal. I quit using blood meal some time ago and have recently decided to NOT use bone meal any longer for the reasons you have described!
Thanking you again,
It has been a long time since I have used either bone or blood meal, but the information you shared in this post was not a part of my decision. My decision was an economical one. But you have added some other good reasons not to use these products! Thank you for sharing!
Theresa, your simple way of gardening is fantastic. As for bone or blood meal I have never considered using either; mainly because I haven’t consumed any meat since 1971 and I don’t want them in my veggies either. Thanks for all the great suggestions.