Treasure or Trash?
What do you do with the eggshells from breakfast? Toss them in the trash to go to the landfill (Please NO!). Grind them up in the disposal to send down the drain to the treatment plant (Again, Please Don’t). Or do you save them with the other organic waste from your kitchen to go back into your garden and landscape? That is the proper answer to the question.
Eggshells, just like any other organic material from your kitchen, should be recycled back into your garden. These wonders of natural engineering and storage have value that should not be wasted.
Nutrients in Eggshells
Yes, eggshells contain many nutrients that are vital to your garden and landscape. Eggshells contain roughly:
- Calcium – 900. Mg. 90%,
- Magnesium – 24.0. Mg. 6%,
- Phosphorus – 8.4. Mg. 1%,
- Potassium – 8.0. Mg. 0%,
- Sodium – 9.0. Mg. 0%.
The largest return you will get to your garden soil is in the form of calcium. Unfortunately, this calcium is in a form that takes a long time to break down into soluble forms that plants can use directly. It must be decomposed by soil organisms before the plants can use it. To make the calcium in eggshells more readily available, the eggshells should be ground as fine as possible to make it available to the smaller organisms faster. One other option is to crush your eggshells and add them to your compost pile instead of directly to the soil.
Adding eggshells around your plants in your landscape can help deter slugs and snails. Crush the eggshells and sprinkle them around the base of your plants. The soft underside of the slugs and snails is sensitive to the sharp edges of the eggshells. You should refresh your eggshell slug repellant on a regular basis.
Building Soil with Eggshells
We have already discussed the nutrient value of adding eggshells to your garden and landscape. Eggshells can perform another vital function by regulating pH in the soil. As the calcium carbonate in the eggshells (calcium carbonate is the principal component of eggshells) decomposes, it helps bring the soil pH to the range most suitable for plants.
Here are a few other ideas for your eggshells
- Use them as starting pots for seeds. Poke a small hole in the bottom of the eggshell and fill with fine potting soil. Plant your seeds, and when they are ready to plant, crush the eggshell as you put the whole thing into the soil. The eggshell will continue to add calcium to the soil, break down naturally, and the roots of the plants will push through the crushed eggshell.
- If your potted plants are showing signs of calcium deficiencies, put about 12 eggshells into a gallon of water and bring it to a boil. Boil the eggshells for an hour and then remove the pot from the heat and let the water cool to room temperature. Remove the eggshells and water your potted plants with the now nutrient-rich water.
- Grind your eggshells and add to the organic matter that you feed the worms in your worm bin. (You don’t have a worm bin? You should get one.). Grinding what you feed your worms makes the material more accessible to them and speeds up their growth. Faster growing worms means more worms.
Eggshells are one of those things that we simply don’t think about when it comes to gardening. Eggshells, like everything else that comes from nature, should be returned to nature. Remember, we are focused on feeding the soil and letting the soil take care of the plants. Returning eggshells to the soil puts those nutrients back where they originally started and sets them off on another journey through the food chain.
Links and Resources
For more information about organic gardening, lifestyles, and living, visit our website at West Texas Organic Gardening.
If you found the information here helpful, you might also find these articles on our website of interest.
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