Eggshells can help plants thrive — but they come with a warning

Eggshells can help plants thrive — but they come with a warning

Eggshells are usually put in the food recycling bin, but did you know they can be a useful addition to the garden? In fact, discarded eggshells could be the secret to helping your plants grow.

“Eggshells are good for plants because they provide a natural source of calcium carbonate, an essential nutrient for plant growth,” says Lucy Reid, gardening enthusiast at tool brand Gtech. “It can deter some pests, such as slugs and snails, because of its sharp edges when crushed.” She adds that the shells can help neutralize acidic soil. “This can be especially beneficial for plants that don’t thrive in acidic soil, such as azaleas, rhododendrons and holly.

As the shells break down, “calcium carbonate helps strengthen the plants’ cell walls, which encourages growth and helps strengthen roots,” explains Craig Morley, a horticulturist from online retailer Budget Seeds.

The presence of eggshell can also help prevent blossom end rot—a disease caused by calcium deficiency—in fruits such as eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

However, it should be noted that eggshells will not have an immediate impact on soil health. They only reduce calcium after decomposition, a process that can take months or even years, so keep this in mind when considering using the following methods for your cultivation.

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Use eggshells for fertilizer

For fertilizer, Craig suggests using a mortar and pestle to crush and sprinkle the crumbled shells directly into the planting holes, which he says particularly benefits vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, as well as roses and hydrangeas. He says winter is a good time to scatter shells over the area you plan to plant in the spring (an idea to bookmark for next year!).

“Alternatively, you can crush the peels until they are finely ground, and add them to your watering can for a soluble calcium solution that can be easily absorbed by plant roots.”

Using eggshells to control insects

Ground eggshells around plants as a natural organic fertilizer for the gardencom.pinterest

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Some swear by eggshells as a natural way to deter pests. “Scatter crushed shells around the base of any plants or around the edge of your plant pots to deter any soft-bodied creatures,” says Lucy.

“The sharp edges of the egg shell fragments will prevent the likes of slugs and snails from crawling onto your plants and flowers.” Likewise they can be a deterrent for some pets. “It’s also thought that cats don’t like walking on eggshells because they’re noisy and sharp, so it could prevent them from using your garden as a litter tray,” says Craig, warning that these methods may have “varying levels of success.”

However, it’s worth noting that while eggshells can help deter some garden pests, they can actually attract others (more on that below).

Put eggshells in compost

“The simplest way to use eggshells is to compost them. All you have to do is crush the eggshells, add them to your compost bin, and they will decompose over time, enriching the compost with calcium,” says Lucy.

Craig recommends washing the shells before adding them to the compost to avoid attracting animals, such as mice. In addition, it should be crushed into powder to speed up the decomposition process.

Make seed starter with eggshells

A seedling growing from a potcom.pinterest

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Eggshells that have been finely broken in half can also be useful as starting pots for seedlings, Craig says. “Rinse the shell to get rid of any remaining egg, and use a needle to make a small hole in the bottom for drainage.” Fill with soil and add seeds, then when the seedlings are ready to transplant to the garden, plant the eggshells directly into the soil to help provide nutrients to the growing plants.

Are eggshells safe to use in the garden?

While eggshells are generally safe to use in the garden, Lucy advises taking some precautions, especially when it comes to edible plants like herbs. “Raw eggshells may contain salmonella. To reduce this risk, you can boil or bake the eggshells before using them.” She also recommends using shells as part of a balanced approach to soil health. “Overuse can result in too much calcium, creating an imbalance in nutrient levels in the soil, which can prevent the uptake of other essential nutrients in your plants.”

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