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Making Organic Bone Meal at Home

May 28th, 2010

I blogged about this over at Not Dabbling earlier this week and figured any of you who don’t read that blog as well would appreciate the info as well. I’m always trying to find ways to make things instead of purchasing them. I sometimes buy bone meal for the garden. I like to use it when I plant garlic, onions and other bulbing plants. I don’t like to buy the stuff at the store, because I know it comes from animals that have lived in CAFO’s and have been fed antibiotics and hormones. Since I buy my chickens at the local farm, they’re pastured and happy and healthy as can be. I try to make the best use of them when I buy them, they are expensive and I don’t like to waste anything. When we get done eating a chicken, this is what we have left.

Usually I bury these bones somewhere in the garden, or put them in the compost pile (even though they tell you not to). They do take a while to break down, so I thought I could make my own bone meal instead. I dried the bones on the counter for a few days and whenever I baked something I’d throw them in after I turned off the oven. Then I put the bones in a blender and pulsed 10-15 times and I had bone meal. Not quite as fine as the stuff you buy, but much healthier for my garden. I do have a heavy duty blender (the older version of this).

I feel good knowing that nothing is going to waste and the bone meal I’m using in my garden is the best quality.

What do you do with your chicken bones? Have you ever made your own bone meal?

34 Comments to “Making Organic Bone Meal at Home”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Making Organic Bone Meal at Home #makeyourown #bonemeal […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Making Bonemeal at Home | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  2. Wider Sky on May 28, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Wow.. now that is very clever. I’ve never thought of doing that but what a great idea. Must try it the next time we have a roast. I suppose you could do this with any bones?

    Reply to Wider Sky's comment

    • Susy on May 28, 2010 at 8:58 am

      Beef bones might be a little strong for the blender, but crushing them with a big rock might work well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Heather on May 28, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Heather´s last blog workshop =-.

    Reply to Heather's comment

  4. Rose on May 28, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I’ve just started doing this myself, actually, though I don’t bother grinding it, putting the bones directly in the soil beneath my cherry tree. I think I’ll be doing this for all my trees as I tend to keep these in pots, and therefore their nutrition needs are much higher than if they were in the ground.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..I haz tomatoze =-.

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  5. liane on May 28, 2010 at 8:03 am

    amazing. good for you! i have a large bag of commercial bonemeal in the barn. i guess what’s bought is bought. but i shall keep this in mind.

    Reply to liane's comment

  6. Seren Dippity on May 28, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I grind my egg shells in the blender after drying them in the oven. After I’ve baked something else, I put the eggs on a cookie sheet (on a layer of aluminum foil! found out the hard way that eggshells permanently adhere.) I then spread them directly into my garden. Composting them took forever and I hate seeing partially decomposed shells floating to the top.

    It never occurred to me to grind bones. I usually bury them whole. But after the extended cooking time I give them while making broth, I imagine they would be soft enough not to damage the blades. hmmmm.

    I also always compost fish bones and shrimp shells along with any heads and tails. They might fair better after a grind or two! I had an uncle who was an avid fisherman. He was alway burying his fish “cleanings” under his backyard magnolia tree. It was the largest magnolia tree I have ever seen – huge! Flowers the size of dinner plates. Not sure if it was that the tree was 50 years old or that he had been feeding it fish for that many years!!!

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

    • Susy on May 28, 2010 at 8:59 am

      I’ve heard that if you pressure cook chickens bones they’ll disintegrate as well. Never tried it but that what I read. I would think you could bury the liquid then or dilute it like a liquid manure.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Janine at Rustic Kitchen on May 28, 2010 at 8:10 am

    I needed this today! I’ve been struggling with how to boost my soil. I’ve asked a breakfast restaurant to save eggshells, and I’m off to get fish heads from the local fishmonger. I have only myself to blame: I had a fence built around where the previous people had their vegetable garden and didn’t have the soil tested. Turns out that’s where the old barn burned down and I’ve been investing heavily in soil amendments ever since.

    Reply to Janine at Rustic Kitchen's comment

    • Susy on May 28, 2010 at 9:04 am

      I’d recommend a cover crop or two as well, they’ do wonders for the soil and they’re so much cheaper than buying amendments.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Miranda on May 28, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Awesome idea – i usually throw the chicken bones to my chickens (yes, they love picking out the marrow as cannibalistic as that sounds) and then the compost heap. We don’t have very many trash digging pests, so it’s never been a problem. This is a great idea that i’d like to pursue – in what quantities do you add the bone meal to plants? I should know this, but what good additives does the bone meal provide to the plants/ what plants would want it the most?
    .-= Miranda´s last blog ..From Sun Dress to Skirt! =-.

    Reply to Miranda's comment

    • Susy on May 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm

      Bone meal is slow release so you won’t see results immediately. Bone meal is particularly good for enhancing root growth in plants so it’s good for plants like onions, potatoes, garlic and carrots that produce bulbs. It’s also supposed to be good for flowering plants that are grown from corms, bulbs and rhizomes like tulips, dahlias and begonias. The calcium that it adds to the soil helps with seed formation and strong stems. It’s also said to enhance branching in perennials.

      From what I have read the usual NPK ratio for store bought bone meal is 1-11-0 with 20% total phosphate and 24% calcium. Although I’m assuming that when using organic pastured bones it’s most likely higher, since the meal is healthier and more nutritious it would make sense that the bones are as well.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Miranda on May 28, 2010 at 3:47 pm

        awesome, thanks. As always you’re a well of information :)
        .-= Miranda´s last blog ..From Sun Dress to Skirt! =-.

        to Miranda's comment

  9. MAYBELLINE on May 28, 2010 at 11:40 am

    What an excellent idea.
    I’ve always avoided bone meal because of the whole mad cow scare.
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..1st Tomatoes of the Season =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on May 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      There is very little risk of this making it through the steaming, sterilizing and crushing of the bones. Although I don’t like using because of the hormones/antibiotics they use on the animals from CAFO’s. So it is probably best to avoid using these in your garden.

      When making it myself I know that it’s safe and healthy. Not to mention it saves money!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Jennifer Krieger on May 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

    A new (to me) idea! That’s why I keep reading your blogs, you lovely people.

    Reply to Jennifer Krieger's comment

  11. melissa on May 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    I usually make chicken stock out of mine. I wonder if there would be anything left in the bones that would be worth making meal out of them after I’ve boiled them for several hours. :P
    .-= melissa´s last blog ..disconnect =-.

    Reply to melissa's comment

    • Susy on May 28, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      I always make chicken stock out of mine as well. I figure there’s still all kinds of goodness in there, which is why animals will still eat them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Karla on August 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

      If there’s any structure left to the bones after making stock, there’s a significant amount of phosphorus and calcium still there. Long simmering in the making of stock dissolves a lot of the collagen and related proteins in the bone and other connective tissue (that’s what gives stock the mouth feel that broth doesn’t have), and what’s left is remaining protein (so, a bit of nitrogen along with carbon and oxygen, mostly) and the hydroxyapatite crystals that support bone’s rigidity. These crystals are high in phosphorus and calcium.

      If you want to see how much the proteins are contributing to bone structure, you can do the “rubber chicken” experiment: soak cleaned bones in vinegar for several days, and the crystals will dissolve in the acid. The bone will retain its shape, but you can bend it easily.

      Reply to Karla's comment

  12. lee on May 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Now I’m kicking myself for throwing away chicken bones all these years.

    Reply to lee's comment

  13. LaVerne on May 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    GEEENYUS! simple, elegant recycling!

    Reply to LaVerne's comment

  14. pam on May 28, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I need to make a file of just your ideas!
    .-= pam´s last blog ..It’s May. It’s strawberry time. School is out! =-.

    Reply to pam's comment

  15. Amir on March 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I planted 200 sapling including peach, nectarin, apple, in my 2000sq meter garden one month ago. the soil in not bad but does not satisfy me. beside there are lots of weed that really bother me. what should i do?

    I already appreciate ur help.

    Reply to Amir's comment

  16. Welcome June! | Paganites on June 2, 2011 at 10:01 am

    […] am going to start making my own bone meal. My garden needs more […]

    Reply to Welcome June! | Paganites's comment

  17. Abby on October 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I do container gardening. Will it help with that as well?

    Reply to Abby's comment

    • Susy on October 14, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      Yep, it certainly will!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  18. Kathe on April 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

    My next investment is a grain mill (I am gluten-free but use nut flours).
    Would I be able to grind bones in the grain mill? Has anyone ever done that?
    My goal for this year is that what comes on the property (food stuffs) and what is removed from the land (trees, leaves, etc) is used on the property (firewood, compost, mulch, amendments, etc) so that the amount of material leaving the property for disposal is greatly reduced.
    So thanks for the great idea! Nice to know that after I make soup stock i don’t have to toss the bones away!

    Reply to Kathe's comment

    • Susy on April 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

      The bones would probably be too big for the grain mill I would think. You can bury them directly in the garden too, I often do that when I don’t have time to grind them up. They usually last for a season or two and then they’re gone.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. CrystalB on May 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Ok im game for this idea overal however I live in the city and gardening in garbage cans i bought the cans new for this purpose .. ,, this year I will purchase the bone meal already made, but will be doing this method of making own bone meal the following year. we only have 5 months of summer. my question is can this bought bone meal be used in the gardening pots just the same as ground gardening?

    please dont hate me for buying premade bone meal at the store im just starting out gardening thank you!!

    Reply to CrystalB's comment

    • Susy on May 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Sure, use this just like the bone meal you buy.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Roland on April 10, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    This is a couple years later, but I was wondering if, after adding your bones/shells/fish to the soil, do you have rodents come sniffing and digging? Raccoons or rats or mice? Does baking remove smells that could attract pests?

    Reply to Roland's comment

    • Susy on April 6, 2016 at 11:02 am

      No issues with that, but we have dogs and cats in the garden so that might help keep them away.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  21. Elaine Vera D Encarnacion on January 23, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Is it okay that I roasted my bone meal ’til its all black then I soak it in vinegar?

    Reply to Elaine Vera D Encarnacion's comment

    • Susy on February 10, 2019 at 11:25 am


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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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