Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Blood Meal in your Vegetable Garden

Last week a question was posted on the Vegetable Gardening Facebook page. The question was very simple. Do you use blood meal in your Vegetable Garden? The responses to whether or not blood meal is used your vegetable garden were great. The answers on blood meal ranged from `What the heck is blood meal?`, up through and including `You would have to be absolutely crazy to use blood meal at all!`.

So let’s tackle these blood meal concerns. What is blood meal? Why would you use blood meal in your vegetable garden? Is blood meal safe? Where do you get blood meal? And finally, how much does blood meal cost?

These are all great questions on blood meal that need to be answered.

First, what is blood meal?

Blood meal is a dry non-reactive powder derived from blood. Blood meal is one of the highest sources of nitrogen not derived from chemicals. So where does the blood come from for blood meal? If you are an animal lover or vegetarian you may not like this next part, and that is, most blood meal comes from cattle as a slaughterhouse by product. Yeah I know, it does not make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it is a reality.

Why would you use blood meal in your vegetable garden?

As mentioned previously, it is a great source of nitrogen … Nitrogen is an extremely important element for growing most veggies. Have the leaves on your vegetable plants turned yellow? Chances are that is because your soil lacks nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important part of photosynthesis. It is a component of chlorophyll, the compound by which plants use the sun to produce sugars. Blood meal gives you the opportunity to add nitrogen back into your soil. Because blood meal is such a high source of nitrogen, you won’t need to use a lot of it.

Blood meal has also been shown to help deter animals from your garden that may otherwise do damage to your plants such as rabbits or deer. According to the USDA`s National Organic program, blood meal is permitted to be used as a certified organic soil amendment, it cannot however be fed to organic livestock.

Is Blood Meal safe?

Yes blood meal is safe, but just like anything else you buy; know who is making the blood meal you plan on purchasing. In other words, read the label of the packaging the blood meal comes in. You can purchase blood meal, both organic and non-organic, from any home or garden center, or online at such websites like Amazon.

Blood meal is packaged in a wide variety of sizes so be sure to take a look at the weight on the packaging so you get the most for your money. Most blood meal packages should will tell you the concentration of Nitrogen to the other elements potassium and phosphorous in a reading such as 13 – 0 – 0. If it does not, you may want to consider a different brand.

So how much does it cost? That really depends on how much you buy. Prices can range anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 per pound. Those same prices will also depend on the manufacturer. You have plenty of blood meal choices out there.

One final note, and you will read this on most blood meal packages, you do not need a lot. Most recommendations are about 1 cup of blood meal for 20 square feet. Just be sure to read the packaging on the brand that you go with. Too much, and you could fry your plants.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, the moderator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook and creator of the Seeds of the month Club.


  1. Hi Dear Mike
    Since long time ago in my country when people kill animals to eat their meet,They bury their blood and body parts under the soil near the trees and they believed that it makes the trees to grow very well.
    thanks for your valuable information

    1. thank you for your input ... I think it's becoming a lost art of gardening for a variety of reasons

  2. what are some other sources of nitrogen supplementation?
    i've heard something about adding hair (like from the barber/beauty shop after haircuts) to garden soil. any opinions on that?

  3. I know hair will repel deer, racoon and rabbit.

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