Using egg shells in the garden isn’t something most people consider when whipping up a tasty cooked breakfast.
In most instances, the first place an egg shell finds itself after being relieved of its delicious yolk-filled contents is in the garbage bin. And yet, egg shells are an ideal organic solution for nourishing plants, dealing with pesky weeds, and even eliminating plant-munching pests!
They’re also the perfect dinner for wild birds, an amazing compost enhancer, and the enemy of many a neighbor’s marauding feline!
If, like many gardeners, the egg-cellent attributes of the humble egg shell intrigues you, read on to discover why you should remove them from the trash and put them straight into the garden!
The Many Ways You Can Use Egg Shells in the Garden
1. Propagation Pots
As a green-fingered plant lover, finding an organic, biodegradable plant pot that reduces your use of plastic can seem virtually impossible. That is, until you consider the delicate egg shell.
Egg shells can be filled with potting soil and used for starting a range of seedlings. Once the baby plant is established and ready to join its counterparts in the garden, simply pop the egg shell into the moist soil, seedling included!
Remember to crack the egg shell before planting it into the ground, as it can take a long time to break down and thus impede root development.
Alternatively, remove the plant from the egg shell prior to planting and reuse your organic plant pot to germinate your next batch of seeds.
2. Egg-cellent Fertilizer
As a waste item, you wouldn’t expect an egg shell to contain nutrients beneficial for plant feeding, and yet it does!
The basic composition of an egg shell includes the following:
- Calcium Carbonate – 95%
- Magnesium – 0.3%
- Phosphorus – 0.3%
Trace amounts of copper, manganese, iron, sodium, zinc, and potassium can also be found in the egg shells’ crisp and crunchy texture.
The NPK value (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) of egg shells is generally 1.2 – 0.4 – 0.1; however, they are known primarily for their high levels of calcium.
Egg shell tea is an excellent way to add liquid fertilizer to your garden when feeding calcium-hungry plants.
Simply add one gallon of boiled water to approximately twenty egg shells (cleaned and dried) and allow them to steep overnight. Then use the tea to water each plant fortnightly.
3. Balancing Soil Acidity
If you live in an area with acidic soil, you may have had to use lime (limestone) to reduce acidity levels. Ground egg shells work equally well and are a more eco-friendly solution.
How do they do this? The calcium carbonate content of egg shells lowers PH levels in the soil, making it more alkaline than acidic.
Of course, while egg shells are ideal for acidic soils, they aren’t such a great idea for alkaline or chalky soils!
Acidic soils are best for growing ericaceous plants such as blueberries, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and Camellias. These plants won’t thank you for feeding them on egg shells!
However, carrots, celery, runner beans, and onions all enjoy a tasty dose of alkaline-inducing egg shells.
4. Bug Deterrent
If there’s one thing all gardeners detest, it’s a pesky slug or snail munching on their hard work! Thankfully, egg shells provide an easy solution for hungry grubs without impacting the environment by adding harmful toxins to the soil.
Roughly crush the egg shells and scatter them thickly around the base of your plants. The sharp jagged edges will keep soft bodies pests like snails, slugs, and cutworms at bay!
Remember to replenish your egg shell barrier regularly, as rain and frequent watering can dislodge or wash away your natural plant defense.
5. Chook Supplement
If you keep chickens or fluffy chooks in your garden, you may already know that whole egg shells are definitely off their dinner menu.
Unfortunately, if fed whole egg shells, adult birds can develop a taste for the eggs in their nesting boxes, which, while mostly macabre, isn’t healthy for them!
That said, chickens, especially hens, require high levels of calcium to produce thick-shelled eggs. To boost your chicken’s egg-laying prowess, add powdered or crushed egg shells to their regular food to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
Making an egg shell supplement for your chickens is simple.
First, collect 6-10 egg shells and roughly crush them down. Next, spread the egg shells out on an oven tray and bake at 350°F for approximately 8-10 minutes. Once roasted, crush the egg shells down further into chicken-bite-sized bits.
Lastly, scatter the supplement on the ground and allow your chickens to help themselves.
6. Wild Bird Dinner
Wild birds enjoy an egg shell snack, especially during nesting season, as they need a lot of calcium to produce viable eggs.
Unfortunately, finding a natural source of calcium in nature is difficult for our wild feathered friends, which is why offering them your egg shells makes so much sense.
You can follow the same steps for making a DIY chicken supplement and scatter the egg shell bits on the bird table or add them to a bird feeder.
7. Compost Enhancer
Adding egg shells to the garden compost is ideal for improving its quality because they contain essential plant nutrients such as potassium, calcium carbonate, and magnesium.
Egg shells also help to balance acidic soils and are a valuable source of organic fertilizer that benefit plants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
Egg shell-containing compost can also improve plant health and help plants grow faster.
However, before you start chucking egg shells into your compost bin, you need to be aware that an egg shell can take an incredibly long time to decompose, much longer than most food waste types.
To compost egg shells properly, you should use a cheap coffee grinder to grind the shells into powder before adding them to your compost heap.
8. Calcium Shot
Egg shells provide a valuable source of calcium for plants like broccoli, spinach, and Swiss chard. Even the juicy tomato appreciates the extra calcium that adding crushed egg shells to the soil provides.
Using egg shells to boost calcium levels for pepper plants and tomatoes can help prevent blossom-end rot. This disease is caused by a calcium deficiency that affects the plant fruit causing large discolored and sunken patches to form.
New cell growth stops (fruit is deformed), and the end result is far from palatable! However, adding egg shells to the soil can provide the calcium shot these plants need to flourish!
Add crushed egg shells into the hole when planting out to ensure your plants receive the most from your DIY calcium supplement. Then add additional egg shell bits to the base of the plant on a fortnightly basis.
9. Feline Dissuasion!
No one would ever suspect their neighbor’s cat of destroying their prized runner bean patch until they’ve witnessed the destruction a litter-box-seeking feline can produce!
Unfortunately, unlike dogs, we can’t prevent cats from hopping over the garden wall in search of a spot to pee, but that’s where your secret egg shell weapon comes to the rescue.
When looking for a soft spot to scratch in the garden, sharp egg shells act as a feline deterrent, especially if it’s easier to hop over the fence and go in search of another garden to do their business.
To create your own litter-box deterrent, roughly crush egg shells and scatter them in garden areas you want to keep kitty-free!
10. Fern Watering
While adding egg shells to the soil can strengthen a fern’s cell structure (improve overall plant health and growth), it’s important to note that certain ferns prefer different soil types.
This means adding too much egg shell might prove detrimental to growth. For example, the Maidenhair fern prefers alkaline soil, while other species flourish in slightly acidic to neutral soils.
When feeding a fern using egg shells, you don’t need to add the shell to the soil. Instead, place one egg shell into a watering can filled with water and allow it to stand for a few days before giving your fern a healthy splash of calcium-rich water.
11. Egg Shell Mulch
Mulching is a gardening practice that uses any material to cover the soil around plants. For example, some gardeners use compost or cardboard, while others use animal manure.
Why do they do this? Mainly to improve the soil’s water retention (stop plants from drying out) and prevent erosion caused by rain.
Many garden centers sell pre-made mulch, but mother nature usually provides her own in the form of twigs, leaves, and plant debris. She also provides egg shells that, if crushed and sprinkled liberally, create the perfect moisture-retaining mulch!
Egg shell mulch greatly reduces constant plant irrigation (excessive watering sessions), improves water flow, and boosts soil calcium content.
12. Weed Repellent
Weeds are the nemesis of every green-fingered gardener!
We spend entire growing seasons fighting the growth of weeds with everything we have, including toxic chemicals, home remedies, and regular weed-pulling sessions. The problem is they keep coming back, so it can seem like a never-ending battle.
However, using an egg shell mulch can prevent and suppress the growth of weeds without resorting to harmful herbicides that impact the environment. Adding egg shell mulch to the base of your plants smothers the germination of weeds and acts as an organic solution to curb their spread.
To make an effective egg shell weed-repelling mulch, you will need to collect a large number of clean egg shells. Then, place them into a thick bag and use a jar or rolling pin to crush the shells into smaller jagged pieces.
Scatter a thick layer of egg shell shards around the base of your plants.
13. Encourages Root Growth
Roots play a pivotal role in the development of healthy plants. Not only do they anchor a plant securely in the soil, but they also absorb water and soil nutrients essential for healthy plant growth.
Egg shells contain calcium carbonate, which helps to strengthen a plant’s root system, thus enabling the plant to grow stronger and faster.
To create a root-boosting egg shell mixture, crush some clean, dry egg shells into a fine powder. Then add the egg shell powder to a container of boiling water and allow it to stand for a week.
Next, stir the mixture each day for seven days. Finally, pour the mixture into the soil near the plant’s roots.
14. Drainage for Potted Plants
Patio plants, outdoor tubs, and containers often suffer from the wilting effects of overwatering.
Usually, this occurs because of a lack of drainage. As a result, the plant stands in a puddle of water which ultimately leads to root rot and, in most cases, plant death.
Using clean, crushed egg shells to line the bottom of the plant container can help absorb excess water and improve soil drainage.
Furthermore, the added calcium that egg shells provide goes a long way to enhancing plant health and encouraging strong root development!
Egg shells are hugely beneficial to the garden, from lowering soil acidity to eliminating calcium deficiency, controlling pests, and encouraging root growth; it’s no wonder many gardeners are opting for this organic, environmentally friendly all-around plant-enhancing alternative.
So the next time you find yourself whipping up an omelet or a tasty fried egg, spare a thought for all the amazing benefits those discarded egg shells can provide; your garden will thank you!