How to use egg shells in your vegetable garden

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Egg shells are a great additive to increase the calcium content in the soil of your vegetable garden.  Calcium is important to plants specifically because it helps with cell wall structure imperative for strength of plants.  There are many specific plants that respond well calcium supplementation: apples, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, citrus, conifers, cotton, curcurbits, melons, grapes, legumes, lettuce, peaches, peanuts, pears, peppers, potatoes, tobacco, and tomatoes [1]

Now you know why you need calcium in your garden, now lets talk about how you can make your own calcium supplement at home from egg shells heading to your trash.

1. When cooking eggs for breakfast or baking rinse them quickly.  They do not have to be spotless just enough so they will not create an odor.

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2. Lay the shells on a cookie sheet or a piece of aluminum foil in your oven for 5-6 minutes at 350 degree F until the egg shells start to brown.  I normally do this when I am doing some baking and throw them in while the oven is preheating, by the time I am ready to bake the eggs are ready to go.

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3. At this point (after they cool for a few minutes) you can simply put the shells in a plastic bag and roll them out with a rolling pin, though the smaller you break up the shells the easier it is to leech the calcium out of them.  For this reason I like to use my Magic Bullet using the grinding attachment to really pulverize the shells into powder.

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4. Place the egg shells into a sealed container for future use.  I used the same aluminum foil I used to bake them to funnel the powder into an old spice container.

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How to use your ground Egg Shells:

1. Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons into planting holes when transplanting new seedlings

2. Sprinkle on surface and gently work into soil when tomatoes are beginning to flower to prevent blossom end rot and promote overall health of the plant

3. Add 2 tsp of egg shells to 1 liter of water and let them sit for 24 hours, apply directly to plants

4. Add ground egg shells to your compost bin.

5. Sprinkle around plants to deter slugs

27 Responses to “How to use egg shells in your vegetable garden”

  1. Matron Says:

    Yes! I collect egg shells and dry them off indoors then crunch a handful in the soil whenever I plant something out!


  2. DougGreen Says:

    Wow – you guys go to a ton of trouble for a few eggshells. You can tell I’m a much lazier gardener because I just toss them into the compost bin http://www.simplegiftsfarm.com/compost.html and let them go. They’ll “mostly” disappear in a year or so or be so brittle as not to be a concern for anything.


  3. Ben Czajkowski Says:

    Finally, I have something useful to do with all of these eggshells that I have just laying around in my fridge. ^_^


  4. Mary C. Says:

    wow, thank you! I’ve been meaning to start using egg shells but, well, I felt like there wasn’t any way to use them besides when transplanting and though it was too late – NOT! I will try this out next week, especially the water soaking one.

    I am also just trying another calcium alternative I recently posted about. I crushed some small sea shells I found at the beach and added them to my last planting of tomatos.


  5. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    DougGreen, what is good about this method is you have the shells ready to go at various stages of you plantings. I have had problems getting whole shells to break down in my compost bin, though I probably should be mixing it more…

    Ben, probably best to eat the eggs first :)

    Mary C, glad I helped you find another use for your eggshells, if you do compost tea a bit of egg shell powder is a good addition as well. Never tried the seashells, would imagine all kinds of interesting helpful minerals in those.


  6. Joy Says:

    Great idea for the compost bin. A lot of times when I am scooping out compost I still have whole egg shells.


  7. SerenDippity Says:

    I do the same thing with my eggshells because they do take forever to break down in the compost and I don’t like the looks of egg shell fragments in the garden.

    What I do differently though is lazy factoring in. That small a batch is too much effort. I have a gallon size freezer zip lock bag that I keep in my freezer – each time I use an egg or two I put it in the freezer bag and smash it. I roll the bag up so there is little air in it. No washing the shells – freezing them means no smell. I use the thicker freezer bag so it doesn’t tear as easily. When I can’t fit anything else in the bag or I need the freezer space I process them. I get my largest cookie sheet and cover it with a layer of foil. I spread out the semi-crushed shells, it doesn’t matter if they are thickly layered. I dry them in the oven after roasting something and the oven has been turned off. The residual heat is plenty and there is no fear of forgetting them and burning them. ( causing a smell you DON”T want to experience!) After they are cool I grind them into a powder in my regular size blender. Much rather do one huge batch every six months or so than multiple mini batches.


  8. Ken Says:

    What is the reason for baking the egg shells before crushing them?


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  10. Wendy Says:

    I’m curious about why you baked them as well. I usually just put the shells back in an egg carton as I use them, then when it’s full, stack it out in the garage. Every few months, I add all the shells to the food processor and crush up a batch. We worm compost and those whole eggs take forever to break down in there, though it might go faster in a hot compost pile.


  11. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Wendy, more of my being too worried about adding salmonia to my soil. Also too impatient to wait around for them to dry on theirown. Probably safe to skip this step but normally when I use a large number of eggs I am baking anyway so not too much effort to toast them a little.


  12. Jason Says:

    baking the egg shells also helps draw any moisture out and makes them much more brittle and easier to grind into a powder.

    your local breakfast diner is a great place to get eggshells


  13. Nick Says:

    How long do they keep for after you’ve pulverized them? The eggshell tea sounds interesting.


  14. Ken W. Says:

    Will the shells from bioled egges work as well?


  15. Ken W. Says:

    That is boiled eggs not bioled eggs. Sorry!


  16. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Some of the calcium will leech into the water…so be sure to use that for watering your tomatoes…I would still use the boiled egg shells given there is plenty of calcium left and still provides pest protection.


  17. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Some of the calcium will leech into the water…so be sure to use that for watering your tomatoes…I would still use the boiled egg shells given there is plenty of calcium left and still provides pest protection.


  18. Lonnie Myron Says:

    Great idea… and it works to! When I aquired my Vitaamix machine I started saving all my eggshells in a bowl and powder them when its full. I usually put it in the composter but now I’m also adding it to my mix with it when setting up my container garden.


  19. Jazzy Says:

    Hey thank you so much for this. I’ve been spending my final weeks of pregnancy doing a lot of baking and wonder every time I use eggs if there was something i could use the shells for! Now that the end of winter is starting to draw near I am anticipating the beginning of gardening season and doin alot of research to prepare. Good stuff!


  20. Rabelad Says:

    I can’t help wondering if it’s even worth the fuss of composting egg shells. Eggshells take years to degrade. After all, eggshells are made of calcium carbonate, which is the exact same composition as limestone. We wouldn’t put limestone gravel or lime into our compost heaps so why put eggshells which are chemically identical to it and would probably take as long to degrade? OK, so some parts of the world have very acidic soil so the soil itself may well get a tiny benefit from it, but only over the course of years. But my region is semi-desert and our area has limestone substrata on limestone bedrock. Our area’s soils are pH neutral to alkaline. In our area we have more than enough lime in the soil so eggshells are not a benefit to us at all.


  21. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Rabelad, idea is less for adding organic material but to add micronutrients (calcium) to your soil which you veggies can use for their own biologically purposes and you can consume for your own biologically purposes. You are correct that egg shells are calcium carbonate and limestone can provide similar benefits, not entirely sure which one would release quicker but the smaller surface area should result in quickiest release. Best part about egg shells for me they are free and I east quite a few eggs in a week, in my area I would have to buy limestore for several dollars for a small box.


  22. jibbyjabby Says:

    I wouldent worry, just toss them in and let them break up when you turn the compost and when you till the garden!


  23. Liney Says:

    I have 5 hens and with the egg shells, I wash them, bake them and then cruch rather than grind to a powder and make a little ring around the edge of my brassicas as a slug deterrent when I plant them out. They don’t like the sharp feeling.


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  25. Penny Says:

    Great tip for using eggshells. This year I used my eggshells for planting sweet pea seeds. This worked great and no root disturbance when planting out, just transplanted them eggshell and all!


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  27. Carl Says:

    After shelling boiled eggs I microwave the shells for 1 1/2 min. Let cool a couple. And powder them in a small blade type coffee grinder. Then use at planting time, in my compost, or just spread them on the soil. Fast, simple, effective.


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