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. Eggshells are organic, natural, and rich in nutrients — all things that plants and soil need for optimal health. Instead of tossing those eggshells in the compost, save them for many uses around the garden.
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Making Eggshell Mulch
Eggshells are made almost entirely of calcium carbonate crystals. The average eggshell also has other nutrients the soil needs, including phosphorus, magnesium and traces of sodium, potassium, zinc, manganese, iron and copper. Since many plants take calcium out of the soil during the growing process, you might want to add some back in the form of crushed eggshell mulch.
How to do it? Save your eggshells and dry them out in the oven light or in natural sunlight. Crush the shells into a fine powder. Spread the powder on the soil under vegetables, fruit trees, and roses to create a natural, nutrient-rich mulch.
It is also possible to use eggshells to keep pests like snails out of your garden. Crushed eggshells can help repel pests naturally in the garden thanks to their sharp edges.
Instead of grinding the shells into a fine powder, crush them loosely by hand, leaving the sharp edges intact. Spread the shells on the soil around plants that are being attacked by snails and cutworms to deter these pests. The sharp eggshells can protect broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage and other plants that are attractive to snails and worms.
Eggshells as Fertilizer
Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, and other plants are susceptible to blossom-end rot, which can be caused by calcium deficiency. These vegetables may benefit from crushed eggshells placed directly in the soil above their roots. Eggshells replace depleted calcium in the soil to protect against this potentially deadly disease.
Eggshells as Starter Pots
Many gardeners want to get veggies started indoors well before their last spring frost date. If this is you, consider using eggshells as an inexpensive, easy alternative to pots. Instead of planting your seedlings in large, clay pots, use eggshells.
To get started, you'll want to open the eggs carefully. Crack open the tip of each eggshell to extract the raw egg inside. Then rinse the shells thoroughly and allow them to dry. Fill the shells with moist soil. Plant a seed or two in that soil and let them germinate and grow, providing regular irrigation until the weather warms.
Once the seedlings are ready to be transferred to the garden, simply plant them shell and all. The eggshells will break easily as roots begin to spread and grow. As the shells break down in the soil, they'll release much-needed nourishment to young plants.
- Backwoods Home Magazine; You Can Make Your Own Fertilizers; Christopher Nyerges, et al.
- Mama's Health: Egg Shells in Your Garden
- Indiana Public Media; Eco-Friendly Gardening -- Planting Seedlings In Eggshells; Yvonne Maffei; May 2004
- Planet Green.com; Five Ways to Use Eggshells in Your Garden; Colleen Vanderlinden; April 2010
KC Morgan has been a professional freelance writer since 2006. Over the last decade, KC has published thousands of articles and blog posts that have been read by millions. A DIYer in her free time, KC has written hundreds of how-tos, guides and tutorials for different DIY and improvement projects around the house, all while turning her words into reality inside her own home. KC shares her DIY passion by creating original articles so others can pursue their own home improvement goals and ideas.