Earthworms need grit to digest their food, and ground up eggshells are an excellent source. For your surprise, eggshells also consists magnesium, potassium, iron and phosphorus in good quantity. After the eggshells are crushed, sprinkle them around the areas in your garden where you are having problems with slugs and other crawling pests. I think a professional blender such as a vitamix would probably work well for you. And many people put them in the garbage without a second thought. On the other hand, low growing plants such as thyme, cucamelons, or certain succulents would be good candidates for starting in eggshells. Boiling them is certainly a good way to go too – just be aware that you’ll lose some (but not all!) when ground into a powder, they bind to the soil, becoming more readily bioavailable and altering the soil pH. Breaking up your eggshells – and letting them break down – really isn’t that hard to do! Above: When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium. Adding eggshells to compost will help add calcium to the make up of your final compost. Garden Pest Deterrent. 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 … It is especially good during the Spring when birds need the extra calcium for egg laying. 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. To use as a fertilizer, crush the eggshells up and sprinkle them on the dirt. However, when it comes to deterring slugs, crushed eggshells aren’t all they’re cracked up to be – pun intended. If you’re going to grind eggshells on a large scale, I would NOT recommend a coffee grinder. 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. All except the eggshells. Don’t waste your time on this. 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! Eggshells can also be used in the garden to help fight off pests like slugs, snails, cutworms and other crawling pests. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I do think eggshells help plants grow – especially tomato vines. First, collect your shells and rinse them under a tap to remove any raw egg to avoid attracting flies, or unpleasant smells. Let us know in the comments. A common question is can you put eggshells in compost heaps? Thicker shells will be easier to clean without breaking than thinner ones. Finally, another fantastic reason to use eggshells in the garden is to be a decomposable, natural, calcium-rich container for your seedlings. How to Make a Soil Amendment. Have you successfully used this food waste to amend your soil or deter pests? Combine the two together, crush the eggshells by hand even more (which should be easier now that they’re fully dry), and sprinkle the mixture across the soil bed. Succulents are very good for planting in eggshells because they don’t need much care and are virtually indestructible. 2. You may even want to do a soil test to see how much calcium your soil already contains. 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. As far as using them for pest control – let’s all keep experimenting and report back. How to Use Eggshells in the Garden. Kristina Hicks-Hamblin lives on a dryland permaculture homestead in the high desert of Utah. Crushed eggshells works much like diatomaceous earth on these pests. 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. 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. According to Paula Felps at Earth911, the US alone sends 150,000 tons of eggshells to landfills every year. 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. Drying out the membrane, allows you to crush up the eggs more easily. He determined that adding crushed eggshells to the soil was useless – unless they were ground to a fine powder, smaller than sand. Didn’t plant any veg./herbs this summer just gone-far too hot. If you are concerned nonetheless about whether keeping raw eggshells is a potential health issue, you could certainly boil them first. 3. Many people plant eggshells with tomatoes, peppers, squash and other vegetables that are susceptible to blossom end rot. Yikes! Use compost, leaf mold, straw, or wood chips for mulch instead. Can I just dry the egg shells, crush, and add directly to my vegetable containers? This is because calcium helps to moderate soil acidity [ 2 ]. I’ll deeply appreciate your help with some of my questions. Here’s what we know: The popular advice to improve plant health with eggshells is misleading (modern garden folklore). Using eggshells in the garden is a great way to make use of something that would normally just get thrown out. Want to know what Gillman does recommend for controlling slugs? The tip of a metal paper clip works well for this. Plants that can gain height rapidly, such as tomato seedlings, will quickly outgrow these small containers. In his book, Gillman recounts trying several variations of the slug-on-paper-plate experiment. Eggshells can also be added straight to the soil. Once my shells are all sufficiently dried out, I grind them up into a fine powder. Hi Gabrielle! 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. 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. Gently wash out the eggshells with warm, soapy water – or bring them to a boil in hot water to sanitize them. That’s how you will save your plants from future end rot. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. 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. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Eggshells can be used as a starter planter for seeds. Blackberry Penicillium Fruit Rot: What Causes Fruit Rot Of Blackberries, How To Treat Bay Pests : Dealing With Pests On A Bay Tree, Tomato Gray Leaf Spot Control: Managing Gray Leaf Spot On Tomatoes, Planting A Giving Garden: Food Bank Garden Ideas, Giving To Food Deserts – How To Donate To Food Deserts, December To-Do List – What To Do In December Gardens, Schefflera Care – Information On The Schefflera Houseplant, Coleus Care – Information On Growing Coleus, Pruning Lantanas – How To Prune Lantana Plants, Fig Tree Care In Winter – Fig Tree Winter Protection And Storage, Recipes From The Garden: Pressure Cooking Root Vegetables, Gratitude For The Garden – Being Grateful For Each Growing Season, 7 Reasons To Do Your Garden Shopping Locally, Thankful Beyond Words – What Represents Gratefulness In My Garden. In gardening, there are many over-complications of what should be a simple practice, and using kitchen scraps is a prime culprit! Crushed eggshells works much like diatomaceous earth on these pests. You can use eggshells to give your plants a calcium boost, in four clever different ways: Eggshells can be used in, or on the soil as an all natural fertilizer. Then sprinkle additional shells around the base of your plants every two weeks. Using Eggshells in Gardening. Crushed eggshells may sound like the last thing you want to use in your garden, but they offer surprising benefits to a wide array of plants. 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). For other plants you may want to use just the cracked eggshells. Here is more about what we do. You can learn more about repelling slugs in our article. 9 Eggshell Uses in the Garden 1. 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. First, collect your shells and rinse them under a tap to remove any raw egg to avoid attracting flies, or unpleasant smells. 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. 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. If you get a plant to grow in an eggshell, your display will last several months instead of several days. That should work too! Plants that love eggshells are tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and any plants that a … 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. Is ideal to wash the eggshells in cold water before drying in the oven? Thank You. 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. Lots and lots of them, all still very recognizable. Part of my method for preparing eggshells for the garden involves baking them in the oven to dry them out before grinding. Now that you have a baking dish full of raw shells, wait until the next time you need to preheat your oven. This seed starting method works best for plants that are small and low growing. All three of these pests have soft undersides, and dislike slithering across anything sharp. These … Hi Sue, The first, as discussed above, is to keep them from going to waste in landfills. You wouldn’t necessarily want to add an alkaline amendment like calcium in that case. How can you tell whether your garden will benefit from added calcium? To this, these are added with 3.3% protein and a trace element manganese. Yes you can do that! 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. I usually boil them & dry them in a plate on the counter. But I made some changes and I don’t find those big pieces of shell in my compost anymore. 4.) 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. The results of your soil test will help guide you in deciding if adding calcium to your soil is a good idea or not. This makes a good liquid fertilizer. 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. 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. It makes a lot of sense to try to find alternate uses for these empty former packages of eggy goodness. 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. While eggs may be the delight of many home cooks, eggshells can be the bane of many home composters. Some of these links may be affiliate in nature, meaning we earn small commissions if items are purchased. 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. He found that when the shells were crushed to the size of baby aspirin, and piled into a 1/4-inch deep barrier, he got the best results. Can the ground eggshells be mixed with animal feed. And keep in mind that repeated repotting is not recommended for most transplants, as this can cause undue stress and damage their roots. 1. Eggshells in the garden Eggshells – What are They? I’m from Sydney, Australia. If you want to use eggshells as a pest deterrent, instead of grinding them into a fine powder, you’ll want to crush them into small, jagged pieces instead. 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. Eggshells can be valuable to gardeners who need to manage soil calcium levels and are beneficial additions to compost, namely worm bins. 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. Depending on the size of your garden, compile enough of each component to contribute a moderate amount to each hungry plant. Along with a sterile growing environment, young seedlings need drainage. Food waste takes much longer to break down in landfills than it does in compost piles, as landfills are sealed off, anaerobic environments. 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. Now, you’ll learn that egg shells can be used for seed-starter pots. While the oven is preheating, place the baking dish full of eggshells into the oven for a few minutes. Note that composting whole eggs is generally not advisable, since the smell can attract rodents. Scatter eggshells (prepared as noted above) across the soil evenly. Egg shells are composed of more than 95% of minerals. Eggshells decompose in soil, leaving its nutrients for the plant to take in. 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. 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. You’ll still want to dry and heat them in the oven as described above. Plus we had severe water restrictions. 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. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. 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%). 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. 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. Carry to the edges of the garden if preparing to deter pests and keep closer to the plant base if using for fertilizing purposes. 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. 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. In fact, a study presented at the 2006 Iowa State University Integrated Crop Management Conference by extension field specialists John Holmes and Paul Kassel found eggshells to be an effective means of reducing soil acidity, on par with agricultural lime, which is mined from limestone. 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. The pests then dehydrate and die due to these cuts. How can you possibly use eggshells in your garden without subjecting yourself and your family to the risk of salmonella infection? What type of grinder would you kindly suggest will ensure a fine powdery consistency? I remember my reaction when I dug in to harvest my very first batch of finished compost. When all of the shells are finely ground, transfer them to a mason jar for storage. 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. I blend mine in a blender – I think this would be more efficient for you than coffee grinders, which tend to be smaller. 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. The result? Using Eggshells in the Garden for Pests. 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. 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. 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. 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. The answer to this is yes, you can. They are green compost materials that comprise only a third in a healthy and balanced compost. Except of course if you are using Pyrex or a similar brand that is safe in the 400°F range. 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. Ground eggshells to a medium-coarse grit with a rolling pin, mortar, and pestle, or food processor. 5. I dry and crush my egg shells to add to the seed in my bird feeder. If saving spent eggshells for use as a soil amendment isn’t on your agenda, there are a couple of good reasons why you might want to compost them instead of throwing them in the trash. 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. 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. 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. In this case, anaerobic decomposition is stinky and inefficient compared to aerobic decomposition, the type that takes place in a well-maintained compost pile – where aerobic microbes thrive because of the presence of oxygen. Bake the shells until brittle, 275 degrees for ten minutes or so, then crush some more and serve to the chooks in small amounts. 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 are organic compost material valued in the garden for its hefty calcium content beneficial to the soil and plants. Especially if they could replace a garden product that you might have to purchase otherwise – like agricultural lime. Water your plants with homemade organic Eggshell Tea Water. And if you’d like further guidance in starting your own annuals from seed, follow the helpful directions in our guide. 2. 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. Just be aware that you will lose some of the calcium content of the shells, which will be leached into the water while they’re cooking. Could only water early am, late pm with buckets of water. 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. Another creative gardening reuse for eggshells is to use them as containers for seed starting. What do you think, readers? Use crushed eggshells in the garden to deter pests 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. For maximum effect, sprinkle eggshells into each hole before planting. 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. 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.