African Women in Agriculture (AWiA)

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Don’t turf your eggshells

Posted by Janice Scheckter on April 8, 2020 2:25 AM SAST
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Save them by rinsing them and placing them in an open container to dry out. They don’t’ smell. Here are the many uses for them in planting and in your garden.

1. Fertilizer

When tilled into the soil, ground eggshells provide your plants with calcium. Though nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most vital for healthy growth, calcium is also essential for building healthy “bones”—the cell walls of a plant. Composed of calcium carbonate, eggshells are an excellent way to introduce this mineral into the soil. To prep, the eggshells, grind with a mixer, grinder, or mortar and pestle and till them into the soil. Because it takes several months for eggshells to break down and be absorbed by a plant’s roots, it is recommended that they are tilled into the soil in fall. More shells can be mixed into your soil in the spring.

By the same token, finely crushed shells mixed with other organic matter at the bottom of a hole will help newly planted plants thrive. (Tomatoes especially love calcium.) For an exciting recycled garden cocktail, try mixing your eggshells with coffee grounds, which are rich in nitrogen.

Finally, eggshells will reduce the acidity of your soil and help to aerate it.

2. Seed Starters

Because they are biodegradable, eggshells make excellent, no-waste seed starters. For this, reserve some of your deeper shell halves. Sterilize the shelves by boiling them or by placing them in a 200°F oven for 30 minutes. (If you put them in a cooling oven after, say, you baked a roast chicken, you can sterilize eggs without using excess energy.)

Next, make a hole in the bottom for drainage. Add soil and seeds according to the packaging. When sprouts appear, plant them—egg and all—right into the soil.

3. Pest Control

A coating of crushed eggshells in the garden is said to help deter several pests, both large and small. Deer dislike the smell of the albumen and will stay away.

Warning rodents love eggshells. Therefore, it may not be best to use this deterrent near the house.

4. Bird Food

Like plants and people, birds also benefit from a bit of calcium in their diet, especially the females who need extra before and after laying their eggs. To make bird food, start by sterilizing the shells by leaving them in a cooling oven after you bake a meal. Then crush them into fine bits and mix with your favourite seed.

4. Mulch

Like oysters, eggshells used as mulch provide a striking accent in the garden. If you gather enough, you can even apply a layer thick enough to deter weeds.

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Wow! If only I read this blog post before I did my eggshell seed starters in lockdown. Without the hole in the bottom and the sterilization, my tomato seeds did not come up :-( I am thinking it might also be because I used tomato seeds right from the tomato and planted them a bit too deep...

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Breggie Hoffman

1 year ago

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