Another garden use for this type of readily-available food waste is to pile sharp, crushed pieces of shell around the bases of plants as a barrier, to deter certain soft-bodied pests. 3. This seed starting method works best for plants that are small and low growing. Bake the shells until brittle, 275 degrees for ten minutes or so, then crush some more and serve to the chooks in small amounts. In addition to discussing the best way to add them to your compost, I’m also going to cover other ways of using them as a soil amendment, and whether or not they work as a pest deterrent. You also may want to consider washing your eggshells before composting them so that you do not attract animals, as well as reducing the slight risk of disease which raw eggs pose. A common question is can you put eggshells in compost heaps? The only reason you would not want to add eggshells to your soil would be if you already have very alkaline soil – and even then, they would have to be crushed… Read more ». When ground in this way, he found that this powder was even more effective than agricultural lime, providing a source of calcium that was readily available to plants. Place them in an ovenproof dish such as a casserole dish or cookie sheet. Bring a gallon of water to a boil and place about 12 eggshells in the water for about an hour or an hour and a half. Using eggshells in the vegetable garden compost can help prevent this. As your eggshells start to break down, they provide slow-release calcium, restructure the soil to make it porous and improve your soil's drainage. And if you make sure to dry them out for easier grinding, the remainders of your omelets can be easily transformed into a DIY soil amendment or compost ingredient. Here is more about what we do. The oven-drying method will expose your eggshells to temperatures higher than that for longer periods of time, so you should be able to set aside those worries about salmonella. Eggshells in the Garden Other use of eggshells. Place your crushed shell pieces in a jar for storage – or go ahead and take them out to your garden and sprinkle them around your plants right away. Lots and lots of them, all still very recognizable. All three of these pests have soft undersides, and dislike slithering across anything sharp. How to Use Eggshells in the Garden. And if you’d like further guidance in starting your own annuals from seed, follow the helpful directions in our guide. He determined that adding crushed eggshells to the soil was useless – unless they were ground to a fine powder, smaller than sand. The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why. Without it, plants cannot grow as fast, and, in the case of some vegetables like tomatoes and squash, fruit will develop blossom end rot because there is simply not enough building material (calcium) coming into the plant. Whether you’re growing a victory garden or tending an indoor houseplant menagerie, there are ways to use your eggshells to give your plants a … But you can always use the cooled calcium water in the garden too, if your soil needs sweetening. 2. Scatter eggshells (prepared as noted above) across the soil evenly. You don’t have to either. Hello. I love your idea of putting them in the oven to dry them out. Egg shells are composed of more than 95% of minerals. Scattering crushed eggshells around your crops may help to repel cutworms, those nasty caterpillars that like to chop the heads off of your delicate little seedlings. Kristina loves the challenges of dryland gardening and teaching others to use climate compatible gardening techniques, and she strives towards creating gardens where there are as many birds and bees as there are edibles. Crushed eggshells works much like diatomaceous earth on these pests. But instead of grinding them in a blender or coffee grinder, which will result in producing pieces that are too small to deter pests, crush them by hand. Is ideal to wash the eggshells in cold water before drying in the oven? Eggshells in the garden Eggshells – What are They? Thicker shells will be easier to clean without breaking than thinner ones. This dries out those wet membranes – although usually they have dried on their own by then – and exposes the shells to temperatures that will kill salmonella. You can learn more about repelling slugs in our article. On the other hand, low growing plants such as thyme, cucamelons, or certain succulents would be good candidates for starting in eggshells. Yes you can do that! The first, as discussed above, is to keep them from going to waste in landfills. Now your homemade eggshell powder is ready to add to the soil for added calcium or to counteract acidity, or to your compost to biodegrade further. Using Eggshells in Gardening. While planting eggshells directly with plants most likely will not help this season’s plants (because the eggshells will not break down fast enough to create calcium), eggshells in the soil will decompose eventually and will help add calcium directly to the soil. If you are using an anaerobic composting method at home, such as bokashi – the addition of Lactobacilli bacteria to kick-start the fermentation process – then the shells will break down just fine. To be effective, you’d need a whole lot of spent egg shells. It makes a lot of sense to try to find alternate uses for these empty former packages of eggy goodness. So you’ll need to remove the seedling from its shell before planting – either lift the seedling out with a widger or small spoon, or crack the shell to remove it. We used a paper plate as our testing grounds. Most of the time when we are referring to eggshells we are talking about the shells from chicken eggs and that is what we are talking about here. Once water is cool remove eggshells and pour this water around the base plants. Plants that can gain height rapidly, such as tomato seedlings, will quickly outgrow these small containers. Then sprinkle additional shells around the base of your plants every two weeks. Sign up for our newsletter. But don’t throw the rest of the eggshells away because I still have several more great ways to use eggshells in the garden. And keep in mind that repeated repotting is not recommended for most transplants, as this can cause undue stress and damage their roots. Generally, shells from younger hens are thicker, and those from older hens are thinner, so if you’re buying eggs from a farm, you might ask the farmers if they have eggs from young layers. 2. Now, you’ll learn that egg shells can be used for seed-starter pots. That’s how you will save your plants from future end rot. The claim: Crushed egg shells are an excellent mulch alternative and help conserve moisture and deter weeds. Part of my method for preparing eggshells for the garden involves baking them in the oven to dry them out before grinding. We will look at how eggshells can help your compost, soil and even keep away a few common pests. Luckily, I am prepared with an answer – and a solution. So I’m going to say the verdict is still out as to whether this DIY trick is an effective remedy against slugs in the garden. Eggshells contain high levels of calcium carbonate, much like lime, but they make a non-toxic option; calcium carbonate is excellent to use for garden management. Instead of tossing those eggshells in the compost, save them for many uses around the garden. Want to know what Gillman does recommend for controlling slugs? I don’t wash my eggshells before I… Read more ». While eggs may be the delight of many home cooks, eggshells can be the bane of many home composters. Don’t waste your time on this. Plus we had severe water restrictions. 4.) Originally from the temperate suburbs of North Carolina, she enjoys discovering ways to meet a climate challenge. Note that composting whole eggs is generally not advisable, since the smell can attract rodents. 02 of 06. When crawling pests cross over an area in the garden where crushed eggshells have been spread, the eggshells make several small cuts in the pests. You’ll still want to dry and heat them in the oven as described above. However, if you’re talking about a very large scale industrial type operation, I’m not really sure what type of equipment is available. And by the way, I’ve been handling my eggshells like this for several years now, and in several different climates, ranging from the temperate Southern Piedmont, to the arid Intermountain West, to the damp Pacific Northwest. When crawling pests cross over an area in the garden where crushed eggshells have been spread, the eggshells make several small cuts in the pests. The result? Along with a sterile growing environment, young seedlings need drainage. Eggshells can be valuable to gardeners who need to manage soil calcium levels and are beneficial additions to compost, namely worm bins. I think a professional blender such as a vitamix would probably work well for you. If you do the math, that’s nearly a million pounds of these oval wonders taking up space in landfills, not per year, but per day. Boiling them is certainly a good way to go too – just be aware that you’ll lose some (but not all!) Garden Pest Deterrent. It’s important to understand what type of soil you’re starting with – so make sure you read our enlightening article on this subject. In his book, Gillman recounts trying several variations of the slug-on-paper-plate experiment. To use as a fertilizer, crush the eggshells up and sprinkle them on the dirt. Before we get into the details of how to reuse this abundant variety of food waste in the garden, I think it would be helpful to examine just what exactly is being thrown away at a rate of nearly a million pounds a day. Eggshells can also be added straight to the soil. Before you add eggshells to your compost pile or worm bin, pulverize the dried shells to ensure that your finished compost is smooth and dirt like, uncluttered by large pieces of shell. Remedy #2: Crushed eggshells can prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes The idea here is that blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency, so adding calcium-rich eggshells to the soil will provide calcium to your tomatoes (or other plants that suffer from blossom end rot). Your advice not to boil the eggshells before drying. These garden pests are a real pain in the gardener's neck, and cutworms are the worst, killing seedlings by severing the stems at soil level. Above: Because they are biodegradable, eggshells make excellent, no … These plants with end rot problems can be saved by using eggshells. It’s a little more challenging using an eggshell for plants, but a lot more fun. Spoiler alert – it’s beer traps. Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels offered by eggshells are relatively low, the takeaway here is that what is usually discarded as waste can be an incredible source of calcium, with value as an amendment used both to feed plants and to neutralize acidic soil. According to T. J. Martin at the Cochise County Master Gardeners office, crushed eggshells are also an effective deterrent against cutworms when a layer is scattered around the stems of sensitive young seedlings. Speaking of unpleasant things like slugs… what about salmonella? Many people don’t know that using eggshells in the garden can help in many ways. Adding eggshells to compost will help add calcium to the make up of your final compost. As far as using them for pest control – let’s all keep experimenting and report back. Anything organic can be composted and in the case of eggshells, they're packed with the mineral calcium, which plants and all those critters in your compost, such as worms, absolutely love. Aside from its cute appearance, it makes a … You can do this by placing small batches in a mortar and crushing them with a pestle, or place them on a baking sheet and crush them with a rolling pin. Egg Shells as Mulch. In fact, I had the pleasure of taking a class with Gillman through the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Native Plants Studies program, and I and my other classmates tried this experiment along with him. Neither barrier deterred the slugs. Then, when you are ready to plant your seedlings, you can simply place the entire egg shell in … Eggshells can also be used in the garden to help fight off pests like slugs, snails, cutworms and other crawling pests. That should work too! (Cue sad trombone). Using eggshells in the garden is a great way to make use of something that would normally just get thrown out. If you are using a glass baking dish, make sure the oven temperature is no higher than 350°F – some glass dishes can crack at higher temps. And that’s where home gardeners can get involved. Their beautiful oval shapes – so perfect for containing their contents – don’t flatten down well in the trash, unless you take the time to crush them. Eggshells contain such an abundance of calcium that they can be used almost like lime, though you would need a lot of eggshells to make a measurable impact. Mainly calcium carbonate (37%), which is an essential element required for plant’s growth. And if this article has piqued your interest in edible gardening by repurposing food scraps, you can read more articles on that subject right here: © Ask the Experts, LLC. You can also let this water cool and use it as a soil amendment. It turns out these eggshells contain a variety of nutrients that plants can use (calcium 34%, magnesium 0.3%, phosphorus 0.04% and potassium 0.03%). Crushed eggshells works much like diatomaceous earth on these pests. In three words, you’re going to collect, dry, and grind. Once my shells are all sufficiently dried out, I grind them up into a fine powder. And many people put them in the garbage without a second thought. In addition to preventing blossom-end rot in tomatoes, the calcium in ground shells can be used to prevent apple cork spot, or as an alternative to amending your lawn with lime. Eggshells can Improve your Soil The large quantity of calcium present in eggshells is very beneficial to your soil, especially if you’re growing tomato plants. You can put eggshells in compost, in soil or use them as a kind of organic insecticide, which means that not only are you helping reduce trash, but helping your garden too. These shards slowed the slugs down a bit, but the barrier was not enough of a deterrent to make the slugs turn back or to prevent them from crossing it. It’s best to start seeds in sterile pots, so if you decide to use eggshells as seed pots, the first step you’ll want to take is to make sure you thoroughly clean the shells. Even if you don’t have a worm bin, you’ll eventually have earthworms hanging out in your outdoor compost pile, and in your soil, so including some shell debris for them will help them to thrive. These … You only need one second of moist heat at 170.6°F to kill salmonella bacteria. This makes a good liquid fertilizer. Eggshells are organic compost material valued in the garden for its hefty calcium content beneficial to the soil and plants. 9 Eggshell Uses in the Garden 1. Charles C. Mitchell, extension agronomist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension also studied adding this food waste to the soil in a farm setting to neutralize soil acidity. Garden forums are filled with testimonies claiming that adding eggshells (and sometimes whole eggs) gives a same-season boost to plants. Some of these links may be affiliate in nature, meaning we earn small commissions if items are purchased. Above: When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium. I usually boil them & dry them in a plate on the counter. For maximum effect, sprinkle eggshells into each hole before planting. Auscape / Getty Images Gently wash out the eggshells with warm, soapy water – or bring them to a boil in hot water to sanitize them. Instead, this frees you up to think about more important things – like how you’re going to celebrate naked gardening day when it rolls around again! Product photo via Timber Press. Eggshells are rich in calcium. Eggshells are organic, natural, and rich in nutrients — all things that plants and soil need for optimal health. Empty, full eggshells are perfect size and container for your seeds. Gardening 101: How to Use Eggshells in the Garden Fertilizer. Depending on the size of your garden, compile enough of each component to contribute a moderate amount to each hungry plant. Collect. You may even want to do a soil test to see how much calcium your soil already contains. Another creative gardening reuse for eggshells is to use them as containers for seed starting. I plan to grind the eggshells on a large scale… having read some articles stating that a coffee grinder was the ideal grinding equipment to use. I’ll share my method for safely preparing ground eggshells with you shortly. I’d love to hear what your experience with this is if you try it – let us know if the shells feel dry after heating and then cooling back down. Eggshells can be used as a starter planter for seeds. Kristina Hicks-Hamblin lives on a dryland permaculture homestead in the high desert of Utah. She is a Certified Permaculture Designer and a Building Biology Environmental Consultant, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In short, large pieces of shell break down too slowly to serve as an amendment or soil sweetener. In a paper published in the March 2016 issue of the International Journal of Innovative Research in Science, Engineering and Technology, Madhavi Gaonkar and A. P. Chakraborty from Dr. Babasaheb Amebedkar University in Maharashtra, India, described their research on using eggshells as a calcium supplement and fertilizer. I know, I know – this has been your burning question all along, right? Crushing eggshells for pest control is as easy as tossing your empty eggshells into a food processor for a few seconds or just rolling them under a bottle or rolling pin. Breaking up your eggshells – and letting them break down – really isn’t that hard to do! While the oven is preheating, place the baking dish full of eggshells into the oven for a few minutes. The answer to this is yes, you can. 1. When you’re ready to plant your seedlings, remember that whole eggshells don’t break down quickly – certainly not quickly enough to let your young plant’s roots spread out into the soil. Eggshells ground to a fine powder yield the quickest results, while large chunks of eggshells will take at least a year to break down making their stored calcium plant available perhaps the next growing season. Except of course if you are using Pyrex or a similar brand that is safe in the 400°F range. There are two different ways to use eggshells for these crops: Crush some eggshells and put them in the holes where you are planting your seedlings. See? Those aerobic microbes transform food waste into nitrogen, phosphorus, and magnesium, making excellent material for growing more food! I actually store my collected eggshells in a baking dish in the oven prior to drying them out, to keep them out of the way. Although most soil has plenty of calcium, eggshells add extra calcium to plants without messing up the pH like lime often does in a garden. Next, we watched to see if the sharp shards would keep the slugs in the center of the plate – or if the slugs would venture across anyway. These researchers concluded that powdered eggshell is “probably the best natural source of calcium,” and found the use of this amendment could balance soil calcium levels in order to help prevent blossom-end rot. What type of grinder would you kindly suggest will ensure a fine powdery consistency? Chicken eggshells, which are the primary type of eggshell waste accounted for, are made up of 93 to 97 percent calcium carbonate, in addition to calcium, nitrogen and phosphoric acid. For other plants you may want to use just the cracked eggshells. If your soil is acidic, amending with a source of calcium may be helpful, depending on what you want to grow. Kristina considers it a point of pride that she spends more money on seeds each year than she does on clothes. Use compost, leaf mold, straw, or wood chips for mulch instead. But I made some changes and I don’t find those big pieces of shell in my compost anymore. If you are concerned nonetheless about whether keeping raw eggshells is a potential health issue, you could certainly boil them first. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. It’s a little unsightly, but once they’re dry I put them in a paper bag & tuck them away for later. If you’re wondering how much egg shell powder to add to your soil, it really depends on what kind of soil you’re working with which is why it helps to start with a soil test. Eggshells are good use for seed-starter. Can I just dry the egg shells, crush, and add directly to my vegetable containers? Now that you have a baking dish full of raw shells, wait until the next time you need to preheat your oven. To this, these are added with 3.3% protein and a trace element manganese. Here’s what we know: The popular advice to improve plant health with eggshells is misleading (modern garden folklore). COPYRIGHT © 2020 ASK THE EXPERTS LLC. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I do think eggshells help plants grow – especially tomato vines. Hi Gabrielle! But there are cases when acidic soil is preferable, such as for growing blueberries and other ericaceous plants. Ground eggshells to a medium-coarse grit with a rolling pin, mortar, and pestle, or food processor. If you get a plant to grow in an eggshell, your display will last several months instead of several days. Around the inner perimeter of the plate we created a barrier made of crushed eggshells, then placed the slugs in the center of the plate. Baking Eggshells to Prep them for Use in the Garden Place your egg shells on a cookie sheet in a single layer Baking the eggshells helps to dry them out fully, especially the membrane inside the egg. Use crushed eggshells to deter slugs, snails, and cutworms. The amount of time it will take to fill the baking dish depends on how often you eat eggs, and how many egg-eaters are in your household. If so, what ratio… Read more », Hi Frank, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for your questions! The plants will absorb calcium from eggshells and grow happily. While nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are all essential for healthy soil – the ubiquitous “N-P-K” you see advertised on fertilizer labels – calcium is also crucial. I’ll deeply appreciate your help with some of my questions. In gardening, there are many over-complications of what should be a simple practice, and using kitchen scraps is a prime culprit! If you are able to successfully clean your eggshells without breaking them, next poke two or three small holes into the bottom of each shell to ensure the seedlings have well-drained soil. This practice does a couple of things at once – it dries out the sticky, inner membrane and kills salmonella. 11 White Aster Varieties for the Late Summer to Fall Garden, 15 Creative Uses for Bricks in Landscape and Garden Design, 9 of the Best Companion Plants to Grow with Broccoli, 12 Easy Ways to Extend the Harvest Season, A Flavor You’ve Come to Love: How to Grow Brussels Sprouts, The Best Wicker Furniture and Accessories For Your Backyard, 7 Top Elderberry Varieties to Grow in Your Backyard, Traces of sodium, potassium, zinc, manganese, iron, and copper. calcium which will get leached into the water. That’s a great idea Dottie, thank you for sharing! Can the ground eggshells be mixed with animal feed. If you need any clarification, please let me know, I’d love to help. The calcium from eggshells is also welcome in garden soil, where it moderates soil acidity while providing nutrients for plants. Thank You. Place them in an ... Dry. According to Paula Felps at Earth911, the US alone sends 150,000 tons of eggshells to landfills every year. Grinding them before adding them to your compost or worm bins will also make it easier for the earthworms to use the material as grit. The strange thing about all of these articles is that NONE THEM INDICATE HOW MUCH to add. Or you can simply store this powder for later use – just make sure your powder is thoroughly dry before storing it, or add a silica desiccant packet to the jar for added peace of mind. 5. Darker colors will absorb heat, and make it hotter – which in your case is not what you want to happen. See our TOS for more details. At first, I was reluctant to use eggshells around tomatoes because I’d heard the calcium would reduce the acidity of the soil. These work just as well as the full egg and you would just incorporate them into the soil that you are planting your seedlings or seeds in. 1. 3. If you add a layer of crushed eggshells as a mulch, it would have a double advantage of reflecting light and keeping the soil a bit cooler – since the eggshells will undoubtedly be a lighter color than your soil. How can you possibly use eggshells in your garden without subjecting yourself and your family to the risk of salmonella infection? The most direct method for using eggshells for your tomato plants is to put them right into the compost or soil. What do you think, readers? Drying out the membrane, allows you to crush up the eggs more easily. Eggshells can also be used in the garden to help fight off pests like slugs, snails, cutworms and other crawling pests. Seed Starters. First, collect your shells and rinse them under a tap to remove any raw egg to avoid attracting flies, or unpleasant smells. Sep 8, 2020 - Explore Darlene's board "Egg shells in garden" on Pinterest. When all of the shells are finely ground, transfer them to a mason jar for storage. Finally, another fantastic reason to use eggshells in the garden is to be a decomposable, natural, calcium-rich container for your seedlings. If you are wondering what to do with crushed eggshells (or whole eggshells for that matter), keep reading. While you don’t need to crush eggshells before composting them, doing so will speed up how fast the eggshells break down in the compost. Let us know in the comments. Could only water early am, late pm with buckets of water. Food waste takes much longer to break down in landfills than it does in compost piles, as landfills are sealed off, anaerobic environments. I’ve also used it with various lettuces, herbs, squash and fennel. Many people plant eggshells with tomatoes, peppers, squash and other vegetables that are susceptible to blossom end rot. I’ve personally never had any problems from storing them this way over the short term – no mold, no pests, and no odor – although I will admit that I do a lot of baking, so my shells tend to get a drying heat treatment at least once a week. I dry and crush my egg shells to add to the seed in my bird feeder. I do have to point out that there are many different species of slugs, and as far as I know, Gillman has not tried his experiment on a wide variety of them – so the eggshell barrier may work better against some species than it does with others. In his book, “The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why,” author Jeff Gillman debunks this DIY slug deterrent by trying the experiment himself. 2. Another motivation for composting your eggshells might be to provide better conditions for earthworms, either in your compost pile, or in your vermiculture bin. After the eggshells are crushed, sprinkle them around the areas in your garden where you are having problems with slugs and other crawling pests. Don’t bother trying to crush them while you’re storing them in this way – it will be much easier to crush them once they are dry. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Eggshells decompose in soil, leaving its nutrients for the plant to take in. They are green compost materials that comprise only a third in a healthy and balanced compost. However, for most home gardeners, adding powdered eggshells in quantities typically used at home shouldn’t cause any problems for most soil types. How to Make a Soil Amendment. Crushed eggshells can be used to block holes in plant pots while providing soil with nutrients as they decompose. I mentioned just a while ago about egg shells in garden making it as fertilizer for crops and plants to ensure the quality of plant. Now that you have put your worries about salmonella to rest, it’s time for the fun part: preparing your eggshell powder for use in compost or as a soil amendment.