Monday , December 5 2022

Use of egg shells in the garden for soil, compost and for pest control

While eggs can be the delight of many home cooks, Egg shells can be the bane of many home composters.

A vertical close-up of a spade digging in dark, rich soil with fresh egg shells in front of it. There is green and white text in the middle and at the bottom of the frame.

I remember my reaction when I dug in to harvest my very first batch of finished compost.

I was thrilled that all of my food waste and garden waste had magically turned into a beautiful, brown, humus-like substance!

All except the egg shells. Many and lots all of them still very recognizable.

But I have made some changes and I can no longer find these large pieces of shell in my compost. You don't have to.

I will not only discuss how best to add them to your compost, but also other ways to use them as soil improvers and whether or not they work as pesticides.

Here is a brief overview of the future:

Eggshells as a waste of food

Egg shells take up a lot of space if you don't break them – whether in your compost or in your trash can.

Their beautiful oval shapes – so perfect that they contain their contents – won't flatten well in the trash unless you take the time to crush them.

A close-up of kitchen waste ready to be put on the compost heap.

And many people throw it in the trash without a second thought. According to Paula Felps at Earth911The United States alone sends 150,000 tons of eggshells to landfills every year.

If you do the math, that's almost a million pounds of these oval wonders that don't take up landfill each year per day. Yikes!

A close-up of a large number of egg shells on the floor after cleaning and drying, shown in bright sunshine.

It makes a lot of sense to try to find alternative uses for these empty previous Eggy Goodness packages. And this is where home gardeners can get involved.

Eggshell nutrients

Before we go into the details of how to reuse this abundant food waste in the garden, I think it would be helpful to examine what is being thrown away at almost a million pounds a day.

A close-up of bright white egg shells, in which some of the protein is still found, on a rustic wooden surface.

Here's what average eggshell consists:

  • 95% calcium carbonate
  • 0.3% phosphorus
  • 0.3% magnesium
  • Traces of sodium, potassium, zinc, manganese, iron and copper

It seems a shame to just throw away all these nutrients, doesn't it?

A close-up of a wooden spoon with eggshells that have been dried and crushed to a force on a white surface.

Especially if they could replace a garden product that you might have to buy differently – like agricultural lime.

In fact, a study at Iowa State University's Integrated Crop Management Conference in 2006 was presented by specialists in extension fields John Holmes and Paul Kassel found that eggshells are an effective means of reducing soil acidity, similar to agricultural lime obtained from limestone.

A close-up of a large number of discarded egg shells on the ground between straw, with fallen leaves in the background.

And in case you're wondering, reusing this type of food waste isn't just a DIY change used by home gardeners.

Ground eggshell flour is listed as an organic fertilizer "that is generally acceptable to commercial organic farmers under the (Rules of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP))," as described in the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook, published by North Carolina State University one average analysis from 1.2-0.4-0.1 (NPK).

Although the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium offered by eggshells are relatively low, what is normally disposed of as waste is an incredible source of calcium, the value of which is used both to feed plants and to neutralize acidic soil.

Use as soil modification

How can you tell if your garden benefits from extra calcium?

A close-up of a garden fork in a dark, rich garden soil, with a yellow bucket on the right, which spreads around a white fertilizer, shown in bright sunshine with vegetables in soft focus in the background.

It is important to understand what type of floor you are starting with. Make sure you read our insightful article to this topic.

You may even want to do a soil test to see how much calcium your soil already contains.

If your soil is acidic, it may be helpful to use a calcium source, depending on what you want to grow.

A close-up of a berry tree growing in the garden with ripe purple fruits surrounded by green foliage and fading to soft focus in the background.

However, there are cases where acidic soil is preferable, for example for growing blueberries and other ericaceous plants. In this case, you don't necessarily want to add an alkaline change like calcium.

The results of your soil test will help you decide whether adding calcium to your soil is a good idea or not.

A close-up of a pile of shells from broken eggs on a floor surface.

If you grow tomatoes and other food crops, this can be suffer from end-of-flower rotCalcium from eggshells can be of great help when planting.

In a March 2016 issue of International journal for innovative research in science, technology and technologyMadhavi Gaonkar and A. P. Chakraborty from the Dr. Babasaheb Amebedkar University in Maharashtra, India, described their research into the use of eggshells as a calcium supplement and fertilizer.

A close-up of dark, rich garden soil with buried shell fragments of eggs, depicted with a small green plant to the right of the frame that fades to soft focus in the background.

These researchers concluded that powdered eggshells are "probably the best natural source of calcium" and found that using this change could balance the level of calcium in the soil to prevent rotting at the end of the flower.

A close-up of red tomatoes growing on the plant, which is suffering from end-of-flowering blight, a disease that turns the ends of the fruits black and causes them to decay, depicted by green foliage on a soft focus background.
Tomatoes with blight

Charles C. Mitchell, agronomist at the Alabama Cooperative Extension also examined the addition of this food waste to the soil in an agricultural environment to neutralize the acidity of the soil.

He found that adding crushed egg shells to the ground was useless – unless They were ground to a fine powder that was smaller than sand.

When ground in this way, he found that this powder was even more effective than agricultural lime and was a source of calcium that was readily available to plants.

In short, large pieces of peel decay too slowly to serve as an additive or sweetener. When ground into powder, they bind to the soil, become more bioavailable and change the pH of the soil.

A close-up of a selection of eggshells, some cleaned, dried and crushed, and others still containing egg yolk and white, on a shiny wooden surface on a soft focus background.

In addition to preventing rotting at the end of the flower in tomatoes, calcium in ground pans can be used to prevent this Apple cork stainor as an alternative to changing your lawn with lime.

However, before you sprinkle calcium in your garden, you may want to learn more about how Plants use nutrients and minerals so your use of this soil improvement is well informed.

Use in compost

If storing used egg shells for soil improvement is not on your agenda, there are several good reasons why you might want to compost them instead of throwing them in the trash.

A close-up of the rotting food waste on a compost heap with dark soil in the background.

The first, as explained above, is to prevent them from being wasted on landfills.

Food waste increases to break much longer on landfills than on compost heaps, since landfills are sealed, anaerobic environments.

In this case, the anaerobic decomposition is smelly and inefficient compared to aerobic decomposition, the type that takes place in a well-maintained compost heap – where aerobic microbes thrive due to the presence of oxygen.

These aerobic microbes convert food waste into nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium and are an excellent material for growing more food!

If you use an anaerobic composting method like Bokashi at home – the addition of Lactobacilli Bacteria to stimulate the fermentation process – then the shells will disintegrate well.

A closeup picture of a compost heap with various household food wastes, including banana peels, on a soft focus background.

Another motivation for composting your eggshells could be to offer earthworms better conditions, either in your compost heap or in your wormwood container.

Earthworms need sand to digest their food, and ground eggshells are an excellent source.

Even if you don't have a worm bin, earthworms will eventually hang in your outdoor compost heap and in your soil. So if you use some scallop remains for them, they can thrive better.

A close-up of a collection of earthworms in dark, rich, composted garden soil.

Before adding egg shells to your compost heap or worm bin, powder the dried shells to ensure that your finished compost is smooth and dirty and doesn't contain large pieces of shells. Note that composting whole eggs is generally not advisable as the smell can attract rodents.

If you grind them before adding them to your compost or worm bin, earthworms can use the material more easily than sand.

I will share my method of safely preparing ground eggshells with you shortly.

In the meantime, read our article on to learn more about how to balance your stack the basics of composting.

Use as a jump start container

Another creative reuse of egg shells in the garden is to use them as containers for starting seeds.

While this is a viable option for upcycling your kitchen garbage, you need to know certain restrictions and necessary preparations before you start.

A close-up of a hand from the left side of the frame holding a small bowl of micro green on a soft focus background.

This seed start method is best for small and low growing plants. Plants that can quickly gain height, such as Tomato seedlings, will quickly grow out of these small containers.

That doesn't mean you tilt Start tomatoes from seeds this way – but if you do, you'll want to have larger nursery pots on hand within a few weeks of sprouting.

And keep in mind that repotting is not recommended for most transplants, as this can cause excessive stress and damage the roots.

A close-up of a cardboard egg tray containing seedlings growing in white bowls, placed on a rustic wooden surface, with a lawn in soft focus in the background.

On the other hand, low growing plants like thyme, Cucamelons or certain Succulents would be a good candidate to start in eggshells.

A close-up of a small seedling started in a bowl and showed a small juicy growth, shown on a soft focus background.

It is best to start seeds in sterile pots. So if you choose to use egg shells as a seed hopper, you first need to make sure you clean the shells thoroughly.

Thicker shells are easier to clean without breaking than thinner ones.

In general, shells of younger chickens are thicker and those of older chickens are thinner. So if you buy eggs from a farm, you can ask the farmers if they have eggs from young strata.

Wash the eggshells carefully with warm soapy water – or bring them to a boil in hot water to disinfect them.

A close up image of hands from the top of the frame filling small pots of eggs with dark, rich earth, ready to seed. In the background a piece of white paper and a wooden surface.

In addition to a sterile growing environment, young seedlings need to be dewatered.

If you can successfully clean your eggshells without breaking them, next make two or three small holes in the bottom of each shell to make sure the seedlings have a well-drained bottom. The tip of a metal clip works well for this.

When you're ready to plant your seedlings, keep in mind that whole egg shells don't disintegrate quickly – especially not fast enough for your young plant's roots to spread out in the ground.

A close-up of a transparent plastic container with seedlings planted in the shells of used eggs, with a white label on the front, on a soft focus background.

So you need to remove the seedling from the bowl before planting – either lift the seedling out with a broad or small spoon, or crack the bowl to remove it.

And if you want more instructions on how to start your own Annual from seedsFollow the helpful instructions in our manual.

Use as pest control

Another gardening application for this type of readily available food waste is to stack sharp, shredded pieces of peel as a barrier around the base of the plants to keep certain pests with a soft body.

If you sprinkle shredded egg shells around your harvest, you can fend off cutworms, these nasty caterpillars that like to chop off the heads of your delicate little seedlings.

A close-up of a grub pest at the base of a lettuce plant that will dig in and damage the plant, on a soft focus background.

Cutworms reach for the delicate stems of young seedlings, so a common defense against these pests is to block their access by placing collars around the seedling stems.

According to T. J. Martin in the Cochise County Master Gardener's officecrushed eggshells are also an effective deterrent to cutworms if a layer is spread around the stems of sensitive young seedlings.

A vertical close-up picture of a small lettuce plant growing in the garden with eggshells laid as mulch around the base, surrounded by wood shavings that fade to soft focus in the background.

However, when it comes to stopping snails, crushed egg shells aren't all they have to offer – pun intended.

In his book "The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why", author Jeff Gillman exposes this DIY deterrent by trying the experiment for himself.

The truth about garden tools: what works, what doesn't, and why

To read more, see this book on amazon.

In fact, I had the pleasure of attending a class with Gillman at the University of North Carolina as part of Charlotte's Native Plants Studies program, and I and my other classmates tried this experiment with him.

We used a paper plate as a test site. We created a barrier of shredded egg shells around the inside circumference of the plate and then placed the snails in the middle of the plate.

Next we watched whether the sharp shards would hold the snails in the middle of the plate – or whether the snails would still venture over there.

We did the same test with pennies, as copper is another supposedly snail-repellent home remedy.

The result? None of the barriers scared off the snails. (Keyword sad trumpet).

A close-up of a large snail chewing on leafy vegetables in the garden on a soft focus background.

In his book, Gillman tells how he tried different variations of the slug-on-paper-plate experiment.

He found that the best results were obtained when the bowls were crushed to the size of baby aspirin and stacked in a 1/4 inch deep barrier. These fragments slowed the snails down a bit, but the barrier was not a deterrent enough to turn the snails back or prevent them from crossing them.

Would you like to know what Gillman recommends for snail control? Spoiler alarm – they are beer traps.

You can learn more about it Fight off snails in our article.

A close-up of the trunk of a tree with crushed eggshells laid as mulch around the base on the top of the ground, surrounded by green leaves and leaves that fade to soft focus in the background.

I have to point out that there are many different types of snails, and as far as I know, Gillman has not tried his experiment on a variety of species – so the eggshell barrier may work better against some species than others.

So I will say that the judgment is still open as to whether this DIY trick is an effective remedy for snails in the garden.

If you put shredded, heat-dried egg shells around your plants, they will not be injured under any circumstances. Remember that they don't even change the pH of your soil in the short term.

What about salmonella?

Speaking of unpleasant things like snails … what over Salmonella?

I know, I know – that was your burning question the whole time, right? How can you possibly use egg shells in your garden without putting yourself and your family at risk of salmonella infection?

A close-up of a burlap sack with freshly collected eggs from backyard chickens, still with dirt on the outside, shown on a soft focus background.

Fortunately, I am prepared with an answer – and a solution.

Part of my method of preparing egg shells for the garden is to bake them in the oven to dry them out before grinding.

This practice does a few things at once – it dries out the sticky inner membrane and kills salmonella.

A close-up of an empty egg showing the shell and inner membrane presented in bright light on a soft focus background.

You only need one second moist heat at 170.6 ° F to Kill Salmonella.

The oven drying method exposes your egg shells to higher temperatures for a longer period of time, so you should be able to remove the worries about Salmonella.

Instead, you can think about more important things – like how you're going to celebrate naked garden day when it rolls around again!

How to change the soil

After clearing your worries about Salmonella, it's time for the fun part: Prepare your eggshell powder for use in compost or as a soil conditioner.

A close-up of a white ceramic bowl containing used egg shells that have been cleaned, placed on a blue wooden surface with a rustic blue wooden fence in the background in soft focus.

In three words collect, dry, and grind.

Collect

First collect your mussels and rinse them under a tap to remove raw egg so that no flies or unpleasant smells are attracted.

Place them in an ovenproof bowl like a baking dish or baking sheet. Once the dish is full, you can dry it. The time it takes to fill the baking dish depends on how often you eat eggs and how many egg eaters are in your household.

Do not try to shred them while storing them this way. Once they're dry, it's much easier to shred them.

By the way, I have been treating my eggshells like this for several years and in different climates, from temperate southern Piedmont to the dry Intermountain West to the humid Pacific Northwest.

I personally never had any problems storing them like this on short notice – no mold, no pests and no smell – although I will admit that I bake a lot so my mussels tend to get a drying heat treatment at least once a week.

If you're still worried about whether storing raw eggshells is a potential health problem, you can certainly cook them first.

However, be aware that you lose part of the calcium content of the mussels, which is leached into the water when boiled. You can also let this water cool and use it as a soil improvement.

Dry

After you have a baking dish with raw pans, wait until you need to preheat the oven next time.

While the oven is preheating, place the casserole dish filled with egg shells in the oven for a few minutes.

A close-up of a hand from the left side of the frame turning an oven wheel to turn it on, with a digital display showing time on a blur background.

If you are using a glass baking pan, make sure that the oven temperature is not higher than 350 ° F – some glass bowls can crack at higher temperatures. Except, of course, if you use Pyrex or a similar brand that is safe in the 400 ° F range.

I put my collected egg shells in a baking dish in the oven before they dry so they don't get in my way.

Every time I want to bake something and preheat my oven, the baking dish and its contents are ready to use and I let them heat up for a few minutes.

This dries out these moist membranes – although they normally dry themselves by then – and exposes the shells to temperatures that kill Salmonella.

grind

As soon as my mussels have dried sufficiently, I grind them into a fine powder. The best solution I've found for this is to grind them in my blender.

Place small bowls of dried bowls in the blender and grind to a powdery consistency. When all bowls are finely ground, put them in a mason jar for storage.

A close-up of a white ceramic bowl with dried and crushed eggshells, with others scattered left and right, on a wooden cutting board on a white background.

Now your homemade eggshell powder is ready to add calcium to the soil or counteract acidity, or your compost to biodegrade it further.

Or, you can just keep this powder for later use – just make sure your powder is thoroughly dry before storing it, or put a silica desiccant pack in the jar to increase safety.

How to do pest control

If you want to use eggshells as a pesticide instead of grinding them into a fine powder, you want to crush them into small, jagged pieces instead.

You want to continue drying and heating them in the oven as described above.

A close-up of a black pestle and mortar containing eggshells that have been cleaned and dried, placed on a wooden surface, and imaged on a soft focus background.

But instead of grinding them in a blender or coffee grinder, which results in pieces that are too small to keep pests out, crush them by hand.

A close-up of two hands from the top of the frame using a rolling pin to crush and grind cleaned and dried egg shells on a wicker basket surface.

Sie können dies tun, indem Sie kleine Chargen in einen Mörser geben und mit einem Stößel zerkleinern oder sie auf ein Backblech legen und mit einem Nudelholz zerdrücken.

Eine Nahaufnahme eines lila Behälters mit Eierschalen, die als Mulch über die Oberseite des Bodens um die Wurzeln der wachsenden Pflanzen ausgebreitet werden, dargestellt auf einem Weichzeichnerhintergrund.

Legen Sie Ihre zerkleinerten Muschelstücke zur Aufbewahrung in ein Glas – oder bringen Sie sie in Ihren Garten und streuen Sie sie sofort um Ihre Pflanzen.

Aufbrechen ist nicht schwer

Sehen? Es ist wirklich nicht so schwer, deine Eierschalen aufzubrechen – und sie zerfallen zu lassen!

Und wenn Sie sicherstellen, dass sie zum leichteren Mahlen austrocknen, können die Reste Ihrer Omeletts leicht in eine DIY-Bodenverbesserung oder eine Kompostzutat umgewandelt werden.

Was die Schädlingsbekämpfung angeht, lassen Sie uns alle weiter experimentieren und Bericht erstatten.

Eine Nahaufnahme von Eierschalen gemischt mit reichem, dunklem Boden im Garten.

Was denkst du, Leser? Haben Sie diese Lebensmittelabfälle erfolgreich verwendet, um Ihren Boden zu verändern oder Schädlinge abzuhalten? Lass es uns in den Kommentaren wissen.

Und wenn dieser Artikel Ihre geweckt hat Interesse an essbarer Gartenarbeit Wenn Sie Essensreste wiederverwenden, können Sie hier weitere Artikel zu diesem Thema lesen:


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Eine Collage von Fotos, die Eierschalen zeigen, die in einem Garten verwendet werden.

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