Eggshells are a perfect example of how you don’t have to let anything go to waste. An eggshell is more than just the container for the inside of the egg. They have many benefits, and you can use them in all kinds of ways around the house, including in your garden.
Eggshells are packed with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, including calcium and protein. But knowing this doesn’t mean you know how to take advantage of it.
If you have backyard chickens, you probably have a lot of eggshells that you’re not sure what to do with. If so, you’re in luck. We’re here to give you information about the many easy ways you can use eggshells in your garden.
Table of Contents
1. As Fertilizer
Like humans and animals, plants need a wide variety of nutrients to grow strong. Your plants probably get adequate amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus from the fertilizer you choose, but what about calcium?
Calcium plays an important role in developing a strong cell structure, and eggshells just happen to be packed with calcium. Plus, adding eggshells to the soil helps aerate it so it drains properly and can even help reduce acidity.
To use eggshells as fertilizer for your garden, all you have to do is let them dry and then grind them. You can use a grinder, mixer, or a mortar and pestle. Even the back of a spoon will work in a pinch.
Then, sprinkle them over the soil and till them into the first few inches.
Eggshells don’t break down for a few months, so you won’t see immediate effects. For this reason, it’s a good idea to add eggshells to the soil in the fall. That way, by the time you’re ready to plant in the spring, they will be completely broken down and the soil will have the full benefits.
For an extra nutrient boost, add some crushed eggshells into the bottom of the planting holes in the spring. These will break down throughout the spring and summer and give you plants an extra boost.
2. Added to Compost
Compost is commonly used as a type of natural fertilizer to boost the nutrients in the soil and help plants grow big and strong. Eggshells make a great addition to compost for many reasons. First, they boost the mineral content, especially calcium. Second, they help reduce acidity, which can be extremely helpful, especially if you have naturally acidic soil or are growing plants that don’t do well in an acidic environment.
To use eggshells in compost, here’s what you do. Crush them up into small pieces. You can use a mortar and pestle if you like, but usually breaking them up by hand is enough. Then, just add the shells to your compost.
You can just toss the eggshells in after you crack them. It is not essential to crush them first. But, the smaller the pieces, the faster they breakdown, and the sooner your compost and plants will begin to see the benefits.
3. As Mulch
You can also use eggshells as mulch. Mulch provides a lot of benefits for your garden. It helps maintain the temperature of the soil and prevents it from drying out. Mulch can also prevent weeds from growing by preventing light from getting to the spores underground.
Using mulch can save you time as you don’t have to water as often, and it helps protect the plants when the weather changes and the temperatures begin to fall.
But how do you use eggshells for mulch? It’s pretty easy. All you have to do is break them into little pieces and spread them over the soil around your plants. You can use them by themselves or mix them with other mulch, like wood chips, to add a little boost of nutrients.
Again, eggshells break down pretty slowly. Over time, they will release nutrients into the surface of the soil, improving it over time. If you want them to last a little longer, break them into larger pieces.
This is perhaps the biggest difference between using eggshells as mulch and fertilizer. Generally, the effects are the same. But, because you’re grinding fertilizer into finer pieces, it will break down sooner than the larger pieces you use when mulching.
4. As Starter Pots
This is one of our favorite ways to use eggshells in the garden. If you like to start your plants in starter cups before placing them in your garden, you already know that organic starter parts are the way to go. You can just put the whole pot into the soil so you don’t have to worry about pulling them out of their pots and damaging the roots.
Eggshells are the perfect starter cup. They’re just the right size and you can place them right in the ground when you’re ready to transplant. They break down naturally and add a nutrient boost to your new plant as they do.
To use eggshells as starter pots, you have to crack the shells carefully so you have a decent-sized cup to work with. Then, rinse the shells and line them up in an egg carton. Poke a hole in the bottom of each shell to allow for drainage.
Next, add potting soil to each eggshell cup and place one or two seeds. When the seedlings grow their first pair of adult leaves, they’re ready to transplant. You don’t have to do anything, just place the whole eggshell pot in the hole and cover it lightly with soil.
5. To Supplement Calcium
All plants need calcium to thrive. A lack of calcium can lead to poor growth or even death. That said, some plants need calcium more than others. For example, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and roses are good examples of plants that need more than average calcium.
Since eggshells contain so much calcium, they are a great way to supplement the soil when you’re growing these plants.
The best way to use eggshells like this is to crush them into small pieces and add them to the bottom of the planting hole. Supplementing after planting also helps, but when these plants have an adequate supply of calcium, to begin with, it helps them grow strong right from the start so they are better able to withstand pests, disease, and extreme weather conditions.
6. To Control Pests
Eggshells act similarly to diatomaceous earth when it comes to pest control. First, the sharp edges of the shells are a deterrent for some small pests as they can cut and damage the skin and outer layers of any small pests and bugs that want to crawl all over the soil.
Another way that eggshells work to control pests is by absorbing fats and oils from the insect’s exoskeleton. When the exoskeleton is damaged by the sharp edges, the shells then pull out these fluids, quickly dehydrating the pests.
If you’re going to use eggshells for this purpose, grind them up into small pieces using a grinder, mixer, or mortar and pestle. Then, sprinkle the shells around the base of the plants and on the leaves.
When you can visibly see pests crawling on your plant, you can sprinkle ground-up eggshells directly onto the pest.
You can also use eggshells to protect against slugs and snails similarly. The sharp edges of the eggshells cut the soft surface of the foot, telling them to stay away from your plants.
7. As a Spray Fertilizer
We already talked about how eggshells can act as a fertilizer when you bury them in the soil, but you can also use them as a spray. This way, you can deliver nutrients directly to the leaves of plants or pour them into the soil for faster absorption.
To make an eggshell spray, rinse the shells thoroughly then crush. Add about two tablespoons of crushed shells to a large pot of water and boil it for about five minutes. Then, remove the pot from the heat. Cover it, and allow the eggshells to steep in the water for 24 hours.
When they’re done, strain the water and add it to a spray bottle or glass jar. Apply to plants once a month to add a boost of nutrients.
8. To Deter Cats
Whether your neighborhood cats tend to roam into your yard or you have your own curious feline, adding eggshells to your garden can help keep them away. For some reason, cats do not like eggshells, so spread them around your garden to keep cats away.
Prepare the Eggshells Properly
Before grinding cracking eggshells and adding them to your garden, it’s important to take the time to prepare them the right way. Raw eggs can spread salmonella, so it’s best to take some precautions before using them in the garden.
Start by rinsing the eggshells. Then, place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven at 200 degrees F (93°C) for about 30 minutes. If you’re preparing a large number of eggshells at one time, run them through a grinder or use a mortar and pestle to get them as fine as possible. Then, place them in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.
When you prepare eggshells this way, you don’t have to worry about them spoiling or having a foul odor. It’s the easiest method for preparing and storing a large number of eggs quickly and safely.
The Many Benefits of Eggshells
As you can see, there are many ways to use eggshells in your garden. If you have backyard chickens, you probably have a lot of eggs. Learning how to use the shells is a great way to make sure that nothing goes to waste.