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Old 26-10-2003, 06:02 PM
Glenna Rose
Posts: n/a
Default Compost - Blood And Bone Meal To "Activate"?


Yes, that was my point, perhaps not made as well as it could
have been. There are plenty of alternative substances that
will work.

I totally agree with Pat here.

Several years ago, before mad cow disease hit the news with great flurry,
I had read there had been an instance of several gardeners becoming ill
with it, with some dying IIRC. The common denominator in those gardeners
was they had all used bone meal when planting their fall bulbs. It was
believed that they inhaled a small amount of powder that had blown into
the air while they were planting. I find it horrible that a simple act of
planting flowers could lead to serious illness or death, but the research
regarding those several individuals indicated that might very well be the

The article I read, which seemed to have been carefully researched, also
talked about certain cultures having a high rate of the disease,
especially in women and children, apparently because of the religious
practice of ingesting a small amount of blood from deceased relatives and
the belief the departed would live forever if this was done.

It seems that in the following media frenzy of covering the disease that a
lot of earlier research was ignored. Whether or not the initial article I
read about it was as carefully researched as it appeared to be, it was
enough for me to decide to no longer use bonemeal (which I had only used
when planting daffodil and tulip bulbs). As Pat stated, there are plenty
of alternative substances that will work. I figure I knowingly do enough
that might be harmful to this ol' body without adding more.

Adding things to compost? I remember the instructor of a composting class
said, "Compost happens." Things will compost, regardless of what we do or
don't do; it's just the rate that concerns us. The first year, my compost
bin (the Seattle Composter) was turned several times during the year. The
second year, not so much. After that, rarely. This past year, not at
all. Know what? There was still a rich layer of incredible soil in the
lower third when I moved it (which was, in effect, turning it). I used
much of that lovely soil in my garden, left the rest in the compost bin
and added to it. I'll bet that next spring, I can turn the bin again and
the lower half to two-thirds will be lovely soil. I look at my compost
bin as a no-work thing. Many of the weeds from all over the yard and
garden go into it, vegetable/fruit kitchen scraps (pre-chickens), and
occasionally some leaves. If I get too impatient that it isn't composting
fast enough, I'll just add a second bin. The grass clippings are used as
mulch so don't get to the bin until they have become weeds from the
garden. The bin gets no special treatment. I leave the lid off except
during winter when our heavy winter rains the Portland, Oregon, area is
so famous for hit. The fruit/vegetable scraps draw fruit flies which
attract the insect eating birds, birds who go on to eating insects in the
garden as well. So my compost bin provides me with rich soil and
insecticide. What a deal!