Bone meal does not help your plants. This is a myth that is found so extensively you would think it had been propagated from seed. From Linda Chalker-Scott of Washington State University
- Bone meal supplies high levels of phosphorus and calcium, elements
that are rarely limiting in non-agricultural soils.
- Phosphorus, from
bone meal or other sources, does not “stimulate” plant growth; it is
only a mineral, not a plant growth regulator.
- High levels of
phosphorus, from bone meal or other sources, will inhibit growth of
- Without mycorrhizal partners, plants must put
additional resources into root growth at the expense of other tissues
I also highly recommend her book about gardening myths which I read and shows how you can achieve the same or better gardening results with less work.
Edit: both blood and bone meal are byproducts from the meat packing industry. Blood meal is a good source of nitrogen. They are sometimes packaged together as blood and bone meal. The key differences are that:
- nitrogen is mobile and not tightly bound in the soil so it can be used by roots quickly
- some plants are heavy nitrogen users like corn or many green vegetables so it is a limiting factor
Edit @Ed Staub There is a difference between phosphorous must be present for root growth and "Bone meal helps stimulate strong root growth" or this site. In regards to mycorrhizal fungi "Approximately 90% of all vascular land plants live in some association with mycorrhizal fungi". That does not endorse selling MF supplements it just underlines that if you inhibit the growth of a plant's symbiotes then mineral uptake is decreased until more roots are grown. I would be very interested in any research that substantiates the claims that are made for bone meal.
Edit @Ed Staub In acid soils phosphorous is less available to plant roots as it is tied up as aluminum phosphate down to ph of 5 or iron phosphates below ph 5. Adding bone meal will not supply more phosphorous as it is limited by the soil ph. That's why they recommend liming agricultural soils before applying a phosphorous source. If gunbuster363 is growing his chili's in acidic soil below ph 6 he would get better yields by adding organic matter such as compost or growing plants that tolerate this such as potatoes, beets, cabbage and cucumbers. This question has some great answers on fertilizing vegetables.