If you look in just about any refrigerator in the United States (including mine!), you’ll probably find a carton of eggs. Eggs are great for baking or eating on their own, but did you also know they can help fertilize your plants?
The part of the egg you usually throw away, the shell, contains valuable nutrients that can help your plants thrive. Read on to learn more about how you can use eggshells as fertilizer in your garden and your houseplants.
What Plants Like Eggshells?
There are many types of plants that respond well to eggshell fertilizer, including:
- Most houseplants
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli
- Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard
- Tomatoes, eggplants, squash, and pepper plants
Eggshells and Houseplants
Eggshells are a great way to give a boost of calcium to your houseplants. The best way to fertilize your houseplants with eggshells is by using eggshell powder or watering with eggshell tea.
Eggshells and Cruciferous Vegetables
Eggshells are a great way to protect cruciferous vegetables from pests. Some coarsely crushed eggshells placed around your broccoli or cauliflower will deter snails and slugs. You can also water your cruciferous vegetable plants with eggshell tea to give them a nutritional boost.
Eggshells and Leafy Greens
Leafy green plants like spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard are like candy for slugs. Crunching up some eggshells and placing them around your leafy green vegetable plants is a great way to protect them. Not only do the sharp edges keep slugs away, the high calcium levels in eggshells are deadly to this slimy pest.
Eggshells and Tomatoes, Eggplants, Squash, and Pepper Plants
Eggshells are an extremely valuable fertilizer for tomatoes, eggplants, squash, and pepper plants. The boost of calcium helps prevent blossom end rot from taking out your veggies.
Placing crushed eggshells in the planting hole for these plants will help keep blossom end rot from occurring. The extra calcium in eggshells is also though to add some flavor to your vegetables.
Why are eggshells a great choice for your plants? The biggest reason is the high level of calcium found in eggshells. Eggshells are over 90% calcium carbonate, meaning they will give your garden plants and house plants a huge calcium boost. Calcium is necessary to help your plants build strong cell walls. It is also thought that eggshells might contain traces of magnesium.
Another reason that eggshells are a great fertilizer is that they are an organic material. When organic matter (like banana peels, coffee grounds, and other natural food waste) breaks down, it releases acids that make the roots of your plants more permeable. Permeable roots make it easier for your plant to absorb nutrients and water.
Eggshells also have the benefit of being cheap and easy to use. If you cook with eggs, you’ll have eggshells to use in your garden. The methods for using eggshells in your garden are all simple and cost-effective. They’re truly a frugal choice for fertilizing your plants.
Disadvantages of Using Eggshells as Fertilizer
While eggshells are a cheap and easy-to-use fertilizer, they do have some drawbacks. One of the main ones is that they take a long time to break down. If your plant has an immediate calcium deficiency, crushed eggshells won’t solve your problem.
You should also use caution with eggshells because they are not a complete fertilizer. They have high levels of calcium, but only trace levels of other minerals. If you’re looking for a more complete nutrient profile, pair eggshells with other fertilizers.
Another issue is that when eggshells are not cleaned properly, they can attract pests. You should never use unwashed eggshells on your plants. Be sure to rinse eggshells thoroughly and dry them out in direct sunlight before using to prevent fungus from growing.
Finally, eggshells are not a good choice for plants that like acidic soil. Keep them away from your rhododendrons, ferns, and azaleas! Here are some more plants that love acidic soil.
Some folks in the plant and garden world are skeptical of the benefits of using eggshells as fertilizer. Here’s one gardeners take on how beneficial eggshells truly are.
Best Ways to Use Eggshells as Fertilizer
If you’d like to use eggshells to fertilize your houseplants, there are a few different methods you can try. Here are some of the easiest and most popular methods for fertilizing your plants with eggshells:
Eggshell shards are a great way to keep slugs and snails from your plants. The sharp edges don’t play well with their soft bodies, and the high amounts of calcium don’t play well with their body chemistry.
To use eggshell shards, first wash your eggshells and let them dry completely. Then, coarsely break your shells into smaller pieces. Finally, place them around your plant for pest protection.
Eggshell powder is an easy way to use eggshells as a fertilizer, and you can use this method with almost any kind of plant.
To make an eggshell powder, first wash and completely dry your eggshells. Then you will want to turn your eggshells into a fine powder. The easiest way to do this is by putting your eggshells in a food processor, but you can also put them in a plastic zipper bag and roll them repeatedly with a rolling pin.
Once you’ve made your eggshell powder, place it on the soil around your plant. Then, water your plant to help the soil absorb the powder.
Eggshell tea is super easy to make, and it’s a great way to add some calcium to any garden or houseplant.
To make eggshell tea, first completely wash your eggshells. Then, place them in a jar or bowl and add water. Leave this “brew” to sit for up to 48 hours, and then strain out the eggshells from the water. Finally, take your water and use it to water your plants!
Eggshells in Compost
One of the very best ways to use eggshells is in your compost. It might seem that eggshells wouldn’t be a good choice for compost, because they take a long time to decompose. However, with the right methods your eggshells can help your compost (especially vermicompost) thrive.
To use eggshells in compost:
- Wash your eggshells completely
- Let your eggshells dry for 24-48 hours
- Crunch them up coarsely (or blend into a fine powder, if you prefer)
- Add them to your compost!
With a small amount of effort, using eggshells as a fertilizer can bring big results in your garden. Whether you crush, sprinkle, or brew some “tea,” try this cheap and easy method for feeding your plants today.