Have you ever planted something – a tree, some flowers, vegetable seeds – only to watch the leaves slowly fade and turn yellow? Maybe the leaves and branches were spindly. This is a common issue caused by a nitrogen deficiency in your soil. This is your plants’ way of crying out and saying help. Help!
So how do we save them?
One of the main reasons why I like growing my own food is because I know where my food is coming from, and what my food is comprised of. I like to eat food that’s as natural and organic as possible. I use non-gmo seeds and avoid any sort of harmful chemicals. The down side is that occasionally I have to share my food with some insects, but it’s worth it because the food tastes SO MUCH BETTER than what I could buy at the store. Even compared to organic food from the local grocery store, home grown food tastes so much better because it’s so much fresher! When I pick my food I usually eat it within a couple hours (if not immediately!).
Because I get to grow my own food, I end up with the nutrition and flavor I want.
And one of the ways I get to enjoy this great flavor is by using organic methods when growing, including blood meal as an organic supplement.
So what exactly does blood meal do?
Blood meal adds nitrogen back into your soil to help your garden grow. Without Nitrogen, your plants wouldn’t grow. Nitrogen is a macronutrient that helps your plants to be more green and lush. It’s the nutrient that is responsible for vegetative growth.
Blood meal is one of the best non-synthetic sources of nitrogen. Plants need a large amount of nitrogen because it plays a part in photosynthesis. Plants that don’t have enough nitrogen can have yellow, wilted leaves because they’re unable to produce enough chlorophyll. Chlorophyll converts sunlight into sugars and energy. Plants constantly use this, which means plants constantly need nitrogen.
The larger and healthier your plant is, the more fruit it can produce. For example, when growing tomatoes, the more branches you have the more tomatoes the plant can support. To avoid having a Charlie Brown tomato plant, with a single tomato weighing your plant down, make sure your plant is receiving enough nitrogen while it’s growing. It’s good to provide nitrogen to your plants during the early stages of development. This helps plants to grow healthy roots and lush foliage. And by doing so, it makes the plants more resistant to pests and diseases!
Many plants are heavy nitrogen feeders. This includes tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, brassica crops (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage), and alliums (garlic and onions). So if you’re growing those, you may need to pay more attention the nitrogen they need.
Blood meal can also raise the acid level of your soil, which lowers the pH level of your soil. Some plants grow better in soil with lower pH levels.
If you use mulch as a ground cover, the carbon in it will leach out the nitrogen in your soil to help decompose the mulch. This means you’ll need to add extra nitrogen if you have this ground cover.
Below is an example of when I first started growing tomatoes. The picture on the right was from the first season where I didn’t know about blood meal. I had also added mulch around the plant. I took that picture about a week after I applied the first application of blood meal so you can see the top branches are already starting to turn green. The tomato plants on the left started off with blood meal and received monthly applications. I also didn’t add mulch. Both pictures were taken the same number of weeks into the season and the tomato plant’s life cycle. What a difference! The plants on the left look so much healthier and lush!
There’s different brands of blood meal out there that you can use. Personally, I use Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Blood Meal. It works and the screw on cap helps to contain the mess.
I use 1-2 capfuls (I literally fill the blood meal cap and then pour it around the base of the plant) per square foot/pot that I have. I do this about once a month, or when I see the leaves on my plants starting to turn yellow.
Keep in mind that too much nitrogen can burn your plants, so be aware of the amount you’re adding to your plants. You don’t want to pour blood meal on your plant. Also keep in mind that blood meal can attract omnivorous animals such as raccoons, possums, and dogs. When I add blood meal I usually pour a ring around the base of the plant and then cover it with some dirt, like it did below. That’s all there is to it!
Wishing you a green and healthy garden!