gardening with eggshells

How to Use Eggshells in Your Garden

Find a second use for something you might normally throw out that will also help out your plants? That’s winning all around! Stop throwing out your eggshells – I’m going to give you a couple of ways to use them in your garden at home.

gardening with eggshells

Hey all – I skipped posting last Friday because it was September 11th. As a member of the Armed Forces since early 2001, it’s a significant anniversary for me and for so many of us, and I like keeping that one quietly to myself. But I’m back today with some garden talk.

I grow a lot of our produce and herbs right in our backyard, and while I talk about that a lot, I don’t spend a lot of time talking about how that works. And because a lot of folks have asked questions or are looking to get started, I’m going to offer some occasional gardening tips between recipes. If it’s not your thing, please don’t ever feel like you have to consume all the content around here. But if you’re interested in what works and what doesn’t for growing your own fresh herbs, fruit, and veggies in your backyard, on your balcony, or in your window, I’d love to be a resource!

Just for reference, this year we grew the following:

  • Herbs: basil, thyme, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary
  • Fruits: strawberries, tomatoes, pumpkin {they’re technically a fruit, but there’s debate!}, cucumbers
  • Vegetables: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, Yukon gold potatoes, red onion, sweet onion, garlic, radishes

So let’s talk about an unlikely and very helpful companion to gardening: the eggshell.

When I read an article about how you could use eggshells in your garden for fertilizer and other things, I was fascinated. Between my baking and a bunch of hungry people who love hearty scrambled egg, omelet, and frittata breakfasts in the morning, we generate a lot of eggshells. Being able to save them from the landfill and help my plants sounded awesome. And it turns out, it’s really easy to do. I’ve been using eggshells in my garden this past year to great effect.

To save your eggshells, all you need is a jar and a bowl {I use an old mason jar}. Rinse them off and place them in the bowl where they can dry out completely. You can peel out the inner lining layer to make them easier to crush, but then you lose some of the nutrients. Drop them in the jar to keep. Surprisingly no, they don’t smell – but I bet they would if you didn’t clean them out first!

When your jar starts to get full, you can either shake it up to break up the eggs or pulverize them with a wooden spoon or a mortar.

gardening with eggshells

So how do you use them?

#1. Fertilizer.

Most of my eggshells go to use as fertilizer. Calcium is necessary for plant health, and eggshells are made of calcium and carbonate. Great for plant “bones!” Or in my case, great for plants that require a lot of calcium to create their produce, like tomatoes.

Experts recommend you grind them up and till them into the soil in the fall, just because it takes a while for the eggshells to break down and be absorbed. I dumped a whole bunch of eggshells in my compost soil when I started my garden back in March, and I add to them regularly.

You can also drop finely crushed shells mixed with organic soil and other compost into the bottom of a hole to help a newly planted plant. This is especially true of tomatoes, as I mentioned before. Tomatoes just love eggshells!

gardening with eggshells

If you want to use eggshell mulch in your flower garden, combine them with your leftover coffee grounds! I wouldn’t do this for your vegetable garden because there are a lot of veggies that don’t love acidic soil {except for carrots and radishes}, but acid loving plants like rhododendrons, hydrangeas, azaleas, blueberries, carrots, and radishes absolutely love the combination of calcium and nitrogen that you get from mixing up your eggshells and coffee grounds. So turns out some plants really love a coffee and egg breakfast, too.

Those tomatoes, though? Definitely NOT coffee fans.

#2. Seed Starters.

I started many of my seeds this year in wrapped soil pods, which turned out to be a terrible mistake for my carrots and radishes. The pods were supposed to break apart, but only about half of my pods broke apart, leaving stunted carrots and radishes trapped in the other pods.

For everything else I started, I used eggshells – with a little bit of paper towel or coffee filter wrapping the soil to keep it from going everywhere. Because eggs break apart, you just plant them right in the ground when your plants are ready, and because of their high calcium content, they enrich your plants as well when you start them in eggshells.

gardening with eggshells

Seriously, coffee filters for the win. They drain easily, they hold the soil in place, and they break apart just well enough to let your plants get through. The plants pictured are my microgreens.

To prepare your eggs for growing plants, you’ll want to sterilize them by placing them in a 200F oven for 20-30 minutes, or until they’re completely dry.

This is probably my favorite use for them! Because eggs are biodegradable, they make absolutely awesome no-waste seed starters!

You’ll want to sterilize them by placing them in a 200F oven for 30 minutes {or, if you don’t want to waste energy, place them in a cooling oven after you’ve taken out what you’re roasting and turned it off}. Then tap a small hole in the bottom for drainage. Add the soil and seeds, and when plants appear, you can plant them – egg and all – right into the soil!

#3. Bird Food.

So this isn’t really a gardening use, but I have a pair of clear bird feeders stuck to one of the garden windows to attract songbirds from our neighboring woods. It’s been great to not only keep songbirds in the area but for them to come up close to the windows so my son can see them and learn about their behavior {and when he’s older, he’ll learn about conservation and the benefits of cultivating a relationship with wildlife}.

Wild birds benefit from added calcium in their diet, especially when they’re getting ready to lay eggs or recovering afterward. We sterilize eggshells in the oven as I mentioned above, and then crush them up into fine bits and mix them in with the birdseed to give them an added calcium boost. They also help themselves to the mulch outside the covered garden area, but that’s to be expected – and I’d rather they do it than other pests!

gardening with eggshells

There are plenty of birds you want to attract to your yard, and not just because they’re pretty. Many love to gobble down the insects, snails, and rodent pests that might otherwise devour your garden {bluebirds, chickadees, ospreys, swallows}, and others can be really helpful for pollination {hummingbirds}, and even getting after weeds {goldfinches}!

We have a couple mated pairs of cardinals, a pair of jays, a pair of ospreys, bluebirds, chickadees, and goldfinches in our woods. We love watching them and seeing what they can do for our little ecosystem.

What Not To Try: Eggshells as Pest Control.

I read an article about using eggshells in the garden that swore they were good for pest control. I guess that really depends on what you consider pests. Supposedly deer don’t like the smell of egg whites. However, rodents absolutely love it, so if you don’t use bird netting or rodent netting over your garden {I have mine framed and netted}, you’re going to have a garden full of squirrels.

I saw another article that said snails and slugs were repelled by eggshells, but I’ve found enough of them climbing into and chomping on my plants that I’ll swear that’s also a lie. Either that, or I have some very persistent snails and slugs.

One thing that does seem to work with snails and slugs though? Coffee grounds. If you spread them around vulnerable plants, the natural acidity and abrasiveness of the ground seems to keep the nasty little beasties away.

I’m still at war with a small army of caterpillars who have been trying to destroy my broccoli and cauliflower plants. My husband keeps telling me to look on the bright side, that it means I’m not the only one in the house who enjoys broccoli and cauliflower. Sigh.

gardening with eggshells

So what do you guys think? Are you interested in more gardening stories? Do you have any good home gardening tips to share? I’d love to hear from you!

Any other good kitchen scraps and gardening tips?

About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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