Blood Meal (and Bone Meal) for Garlic & Onions

Pizzagod(z9 CA)March 21, 2005

I planted some garlic (and a few onions) about 5-6 months ago. They have been growing well. Some of the garlic is 2+ feet high.

I didn't amend the soil much when planting (only a little), and I decided to give them a little bit of blood meal (as I've heard is great for garlic). I bought a box, and sprinkled a little around each plant. Then, I watered.

I didn't look at them for 2-3 days, and when I just went out to check on them, about 10% of them have fallen over. They're still green and healthy-looking, just "leaning", or completely laying down.

I don't believe blood meal would do anything like this. I only used a little bit. I'm more apt to think that the blood meal attracted neighborhood cats, and they jumped in the garden to check it out (squishing down the tops of the garlic and onions, in the process). Is this feasible? Are animals attracted to blood meal?

As far as the ones pushed over, should I just leave them, or should I prop them up with stakes? Are they pretty much done for, and should I pull them out?

I also bought bone meal at the same time, but haven't put any on yet. I was planning on waiting a few weeks. Any suggestions/precautions on using bone meal on the garlic and onions?

Thanks in advance...

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jimster(z7a MA)

Bone meal provides calcium and phospherous, which makes it good for any kind of bulbs or roots. The most effective way to use it, so far as I know, is to dig it into the soil before planting the bulbs, so it is down in the root zone.

I had trouble once when I put it under daffodil bulbs. Some critters, following the smell of it I presume, dug up a lot of the bulbs. They just left the bulbs on top of the ground undamaged.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 9:18PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Blood meal is used as a nitrogen source, and if added to a compost pile, it helps get worms to thrive in the compost.

Just recently, I got some more saffron crocus bulbs in another attempt at trying to grow them. Last time, something chewed all the tops off and there was no further growth. I plan to set down some 1/4 inch screening as a bed and walls around the area, then plant the crocus just above the screening. Then make a screen dome to cover the whole area and protect against rabbits and whatever else was chewing the leaves. Hopefully, this fall I might get some to blossom if all goes well. Wish I could find some stainless steel screening as that would be the best choice, but alas, its very expensive too.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 11:53AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

As a rule, all such amendments should be worked into the soil, not just laid on the surface.

I usually prep a garlic bed with bone meal, blood meal, and wood ashed by tilling them in before planting. Then, long about May, I side dress with them again, carefully working them in with a hand cultivator so as to not harm any roots.

I haven't had any problems with critters that way.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2005 at 3:15PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

"Are animals attracted to blood meal? "

Actually, some animals are repelled by blood meal, rabbits in particular and maybe deer as well.

BTW, my critter problem when I used bone meal was a one time occurence. I didn't mean to imply that it is something you need to worry about.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 2:51PM
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I would suspect that indeed some critter, came around and walked on your garlic trying to figure out where the good smell was coming from. I wouldn't worry about the bent over tops, those plants will go ahead and crop for you. I think they would like you to put a few sticks around them to hold their tops up, they'd feel better and maybe do some repair work. I got a little too enthusiastic hoeing out some weeds a few weeks ago and chopped the tops right off two nice plants, can't fix THAT problem, but now they have put out some new leaves and don't look all that bad. They won't be as big at harvest time, that's all. Yours may not be hurt much at all.
I recently came across some notes from a garden lecture that said the alliums like lots of minerals, so I went out and sprinkled some Planters II. I usually give my garlic and also my brassicas some sulfur, since it tends to be a bit short here, and I like these foods to have a good bite to them. And one thing you may not be able to do, but it's saved us from low nitrogen situations, is use diluted urine. I can guarantee it won't bring cats around! Our garden is way out in the sticks, we have no plumbing out there, so we have a pee bucket. In winter it goes on compost heaps, but in summer it goes on anything I think needs a boost of nitrogen. I did it in town too, but discretely, after we had two dump trucks of leaves plowed into our garden and wound up with a terrible N deficiency. Everything I planted just turned yellow and sat there till they got some nitrogen. They'd turn green for two weeks and grow, then I'd have to dose them again. We got through that summer without having to use any chemical fertilizer (some 6-6-6 would have fixed the problem immediately) and the next year we had the most beautiful black dirt and the nitrogen was available again.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 5:24PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Raccoons like the smell of blood, and probably were more than just curious. The only place I would use blood meal would be in teh compost pile, so it will increase worm colonies. Most small animals like rodents and rabbits would be a bit scared by the smell, as it usually indicates death nearby.
Your yellowing may also be from low iron? I found that, even though NE is usualy high in iron, my garden soil was not, so I have added some for that last two years as iron sulfate, and other iron sources. My garlic was HOT last year when harvested, I must assume that there is plenty of sulfur here. I also add lime every year because my soil gets so acidic around the edges where I have 30 blueberry bushes growing. They get their dose of acid each spring too.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 7:33PM
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humpbacks1962(Connecticut, 6)

My Shepherd smells blood and bone meal a mile away! Even when I work it in the soil she'll scratch the ground looking for it.

So, what I do is, I use liquids! As foliars, they aren't troublesome. I even prefer to use fish emulsion instead of the blood meal. But the liquid bone meal works awesome

    Bookmark   June 19, 2007 at 8:17PM
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My dog stomped all around the garden when I amended the soil with dried blood, bone meal, and wood ashes. My husband said, "You basically buried dead bodies in the garden and expected Goliath to leave it alone?" The dog dug up about half the cloves and I had to replant and fence the garden in.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:19AM
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edgman(z7MD East)

Been using bone meal and blood meal on all my gardens. I use them on veggies of any kind, roses, annuals, etc. Been doing this for 15 years or so. Usually till them in the top 4 inches of soil when I work the beds (along with lime and any other amendment I think I need). Works great in my gardens and never had a problem with any dogs or other animals except cats and they have been permanetly taken care of now. Dont think it was the bonemeal or blood meal that drew them. They just like to crap in my newly turned beds. Pennington's is the best I have ever used and probably the cheapest also.

Good luck

edgman/Tom R

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 11:36PM
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Angerman Hardwoods

Is it too late to apply some bone meal into my tomato plant growing in the pot? I have few small green tomatoes but none are turning red yet and it is mid-July. Is that normal? I'm in the zone 5-Colorado. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 11:00PM
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Bone meal needs to be down where the roots are to be used by the plant. Better to put it there before planting.

Green tomatoes will ripen off the vine, btw. I live in marginal tomato territory myself and got used to not expecting a red tomato on the vine. Although, there are varieties for bad climates, Oregon Spring being the one I used to grow. Unfortunately, I have made myself sensitive to tomatoes so don't eat or grow them anymore.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 10:26AM
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