Posted on: June 28, 2020 at 8:46 am

For a long time, eggs have been touted by nutritionists and dietitians as being an excellent addition to a healthy diet. Have you considered using eggshells for plants? They’re high in protein, they provide omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a whole host of other nutrients [1].

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The benefits of this nutritious food, however, do not stop with the egg itself. The eggshell contains large amounts of calcium, as well as some magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, and while you may not be thinking about including eggshells in your diet (although you can), adding them to your vegetable garden can provide many benefits to your plants.

Five Ways to Use Eggshells in Your Garden

Eggshells are an inexpensive and effective way to improve your garden’s productivity, and a great way to cut down on kitchen waste. 

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While there is some debate as to how effective eggshells are, they generally won’t cause any harm to your garden, so there is very little downside to experimenting with them in your vegetable patch.

Read: Baking Soda Is A Gardener’s Best Friend – Here Are 5 Nifty Uses

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. This is because calcium helps to moderate soil acidity [2].

The best way to add eggshells to your soil is to grind them up into a fine powder, then add a small scoop to the individual planting holes when you’re planting your garden. Grinding them up will help them to break down in the soil faster so they can provide nutrients to your plants right away [3].

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You can also steep dried eggshells in water for a couple of days, then use the strained water for your plants for a quick nutrient boost [2].

Read: How to Build Hugelkultur Beds and Why You Need Them

Eggshells can Boost your Compost

Again, because of their large amount of calcium, eggshells can improve the mineral content of your compost [3]. 

It is important to remember, however, that eggshells decompose very slowly, so if you truly want to get the benefits of the shells you have to grind them into a very fine powder before adding them to your compost [4].

Eggshells Make Great Chicken and Bird Feed

Adding crushed egg shells to chicken or bird feed is a great way to improve the calcium content of their diets. This is especially beneficial for chickens, who need calcium in order to lay eggs. Eventually, those eggshells will make it into your garden in the form of chicken manure, so everyone benefits [3].

Before you feed eggshells to your chickens, it is important to bake them first to sterilize them, then crush them up into a fine powder [4].

Egg Shells can Work as Seed-Starting Pots

If you’re starting your plants from seed, egg shells can be useful as seed-starting pots. All you have to do is carefully halve the shell, then fill each half with good potting soil and set them in an egg carton. Once the seed has been planted in the shell, you care for them just as you would any other seed [3].

Once it is time to plant your seed in the garden, however, there is a small problem with this method. Many claim that you can simply plant the egg shell pot directly into the ground, because the shell will decompose and provide nutrients to your growing plant.

This, unfortunately, is not necessarily true. As previously mentioned, egg shells take a long time to break down, and so as the plant starts to grow there will not be enough room in the shell for its roots [4]. 

To solve this problem, simply squeeze the shell until it cracks before planting in the soil. This will allow the seedling to send roots out into the soil as it grows [3].

Read: What Weeds Tell You About Your Soil

Eggshells can Deter Slugs and Snails

This is perhaps the most highly-debated benefit of adding eggshells to your garden. The idea here is that if you crush the eggshells slightly (not into a fine powder) and scatter them around your plants, the edges will be too sharp for slugs and snails to crawl over and therefore will deter them from attacking your veggies.

There are those who swear by this method, and those who have found that this does not work at all. If you have a problem with slugs in your garden, adding eggshells is a fairly low-risk method to try getting rid of them. If it doesn’t work, all you’ve done is add some eggshells to your soil that will eventually break down and provide nutrients for your plants [3].

How to Properly Store and Prepare Eggshells

You will need a lot of eggshells if you want to provide benefit to your garden (about 150 shells equals one cup once they’re ground up), so you’ll want to start saving them early. The best way to do this is to keep a container handy that you continue to add to over time as you cook with eggs.

It is important that you wash the shells, in order to get rid of any potential pathogens (such as salmonella), which you don’t want making their way into your soil. 

You also want the shells to be dry when you add them to your garden or compost, and an easy way to help them dry out over time is keeping the shells in your fridge since the dry air in the fridge will help to get rid of any moisture on the shell [3].

It is not necessary to pasteurize your eggshells before using them (unless you’re feeding them to the birds), however many people choose to do so. You can do this by baking them in the oven, or by boiling them. If you choose to boil the shells, you can keep that water and spray it on your plants, as it will contain some calcium from the shells [3].

Low Cost, High Reward

While there is some debate in the gardening world as to how effective eggshells are in your garden, when you properly they can provide some benefits. Since they come at no extra cost to you, however, there is virtually no downside to adding them to your soil, garden water, or compost.

Keep Reading: 5 Cheap Gardening Tricks for Self-Reliance

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Brittany Hambleton
Team Writer
Brittany is a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Science in Foods and Nutrition and a writer’s certificate from the University of Western Ontario. She enjoyed a stint as a personal trainer and is an avid runner. Brittany loves to combine running and traveling, and has run numerous races across North America and Europe. She also loves chocolate more than anything else… the darker, the better!

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