What can you do with egg shells? Most people just dump them in the garbage; however, eggshells are surprisingly good for plants and the garden in many ways.
Firstly, it is helpful to note that the shells of eggs contain certain nutrients. Approximately 95% of the dry eggshell is composed of calcium carbonate. The remainder being phosphorous, magnesium, and traces of potassium, iron, sodium, copper, manganese, and zinc .
That is a lot of goodness going to waste that could be used productively in the garden. Here’s how to prepare and use eggshells for plants and the garden.
1. Using as a Fertilizer
Calcium is an essential element in producing healthy plants. Stunted plant growth and curling of the leaves are signs of calcium deficiency. Using egg shells as fertilizer can help correct that issue.
Moreover, the calcium they contain can help moderate soil acidity. Plants that thrive on higher levels of calcium will benefit from the inclusion of eggshells in the soil.
Adding calcium can also benefit tomatoes and various food crops that may be suffering from blossom-end rot. Additionally, if apple cork rot is also a problem, the calcium from ground egg shells can help prevent it.
2. Add to Compost
Yes, you can compost eggshells by drying them and grinding them up before putting them in the bin. Adding crushed or powdered eggshells will enhance this healthy plant food.
If using a worm bin, or when earthworms inevitably arrive in the compost pile, these leftover shells are very useful. The grit in the crushed shells will help the worms with their digestion . Moreover, it will improve soil aeration and drainage.
3. Seed Starter
Biodegradable eggshell halves make perfect containers to start seeds off. However, you do need to sterilize them first by boiling or putting them in a hot oven for about half an hour.
A gardening tip is to put them in the oven after cooking or baking. The shells will be sterilized by the time the oven has cooled at no extra expense.
When cool, prick a hole in the bottom of each shell for drainage, add the soil, and seeds. The shells can stand neatly in any leftover organic trays or boxes.
When seedlings have grown and are ready to plant out, they can go straight into the ground — shells and all where they’ll slowly decompose in the soil. This is best for small plants like dill or parsley that won’t outgrow the containers too soon.
4. Deter Pests
A layer of crushed egg shells in the garden is thought to deter a number of pests. Crawling insect pests like cutworms, slugs, snails, mites, and beetles are deterred by the sharp edges.
This is much in the same way as from a layer of diatomaceous earth which will cut, dehydrate, and kill any insect that crosses over it.
Wildlife is also put off by it as deer are known to be deterred by the smell of raw eggs. However, it is unwise to use whole eggs which are seriously attractive to mice and rats.
5. Bird Food
Birds will benefit from a calcium-rich diet of crushed shells mixed with normal bird feed. Prepare it in the same way as for starting off seeds.
Cleaned, baked, and crushed with a rolling pin will give the right texture.
Eggshells also make a good mulch that looks quite attractive in a brown and white mix. It also retains moisture and acts as a weed deterrent around plants.
7. Deter Cats
Cats wandering into the garden can be a nuisance. However, they can have an aversion to eggshells.
Crushed shells spread around plants and at the borders of the garden may help deter unwanted felines. After stepping on those sharp edges a few times, they will keep away from your garden.
8. Chicken Feed Supplement
Finally, it may seem weird feeding eggshells back to the chickens that produced them but it is actually very beneficial. This recycling produces extra calcium to ensure that the next lot of eggs have nice hard shells.
How to Prepare Eggshells for the Garden
It is best to use the shells crushed or powdered and to do this is easy if you have a food processor. Simply collect and rinse out the raw stuff still inside. Next, dry and crush them with a rolling pin.
For eggshell tea, leave the shells in warm water for a while, preferably overnight. Use about a gallon of water to 10 clean and dry shells.
Finally, strain and pour the solution on the soil around plants to give them a boost of calcium and potassium.
Plants That Like Eggshells
The calcium and other nutrients in it particularly benefit crops like tomatoes, peppers, squash, and zucchini. Other calcium-rich vegetables such as chard, cauliflower, spinach, amaranth, and broccoli also benefit from it.
Try incorporating some powdered or crushed egg shells and some coffee grounds when planting tomatoes. This should give your tomato plants a good start.
It also helps roses become sturdier.
Using egg shells for gardening can help balance soil calcium levels and deter certain pests. Therefore, wash, dry, and crush or grind them up in a blender and sprinkle around potted plants and garden beds.