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The Truth About Using Eggshells in the Garden: Do They Really Help?

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Has anyone told you to keep eggshells in the garden? Eggshells are promoted as a natural garden amendment, exceptional compost and the ultimate cure for flower rot. But how much of it is true? Today, I’m busting another common gardening myth and explaining why eggshells don’t deserve all the buzz they get.

Using Eggshells in the Garden

Ever since the advent of the internet, rumors abound about gardening miracle cures and hacks you should try. From adding Epsom salt to sprinkling coffee grounds, many of these gardening tricks are not what they were made out to be.

And I hate to be the person to break it to you, but there are eggshells involved. Most people encourage you to add eggshells to the garden as a fertilizer and as the ultimate treatment for flower rot. While eggshells have a place in the garden, their benefits have been greatly exaggerated.

Before we can understand why eggshells can’t be a miracle cure in the garden, as advertised, we need to talk about calcium in the garden. Let’s join in.

This post will cover…

How to use eggshells in the garden

importance of calcium

First, you have the primary nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. These are denoted as NPK and are what you look for when buying a fertilizer.

Then, you have secondary nutrients including sulfur, magnesium and you guessed it, calcium. Calcium is important for root and cell development and for ripening of fruits and seeds.

Young tissue in the roots will take up calcium and transport it to the rest of the plant. These young roots have a more permeable membrane than older root tissues. Once plant cells in the roots mature, they no longer absorb calcium.

So, your young plants are soaking up as much calcium as possible!

Calcium is also great for soil structure. It helps in flocculation, where soil particles separate from other particles and stick together. Calcium does an excellent job of holding these soil particles together. Flocculation is helpful in preventing runoff and erosion.

Seedlings growing in egg carton
Young plants consume a lot of calcium because their root tissues are more permeable.

Is your soil deficient in calcium?

Calcium deficiency often manifests through blossom end rot, where not enough calcium is transferred to the fruit. Or you may see it under soil where lack of calcium has severely stunted root growth.

But, that being said, Calcium problems are very rare. Like very rare.

Yes, flower head rot is usually caused by a calcium deficiency. But this is not because there is no calcium in the soil. The plant’s inability to access the calcium itself is the problem. When you water consistently, you allow the plant to more easily absorb calcium and transport it to the fruit.

So when you water irregularly, the plant has difficulty taking up the calcium it needs. Especially when the plant is small. So steady, consistent watering is your best bet against flower tip rot and consistent nutrient uptake.

Your soil may be deficient in calcium only if your pH is 4.5 or lower. At this point, many other nutrients and minerals are also lacking, and the plant will perform poorly overall. A quick soil pH test can help you determine whether your soil is too acidic.

overall, Most soil is already at a neutral pH level And naturally rich in all the secondary nutrients needed.

garden lemon wedge
Garden lime is powdered limestone, a slow-releasing amendment for treating acidic soil and adding calcium carbonate to soil. This is the most efficient way to add calcium to the soil.

Eggshells in the garden. Do they really work?

OK, now that we understand calcium in the garden and why it really isn’t a top concern, let’s talk about eggshells in the garden.

Egg shells are made up of approximately 40% calciumWhich makes them a high source of calcium. People like to plant them in gardens as a source of calciumTrying to help their fruit plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini as much as possible.

In order for them to be a helpful source of calcium, they have to be broken down. It takes a long time for the calcium in the eggshell to reach the point where the plant can absorb it., It may take the entire growth period or longer for the finely ground eggshells to help.

Other amendments to the soil such as lime or wood ash will work faster to provide calcium.

being told, Eggshells certainly aren’t bad for the garden. They will eventually break down and become a source of calcium, but the benefits of eggshells and the fear of calcium deficiency have been greatly exaggerated.

kitchen scraps for insects
My standard serving of worm food usually includes a fine layer of eggshells.

How To Use Eggshells In The Garden…What Really Works

So would it surprise you to learn that there is a way to use eggshells in the garden? I like to add crushed eggshells to my worm bin. in my experience, My worms love to eat eggshells.

In my vermicomposting bin, I regularly add eggshells, pieces of raw vegetables, coffee grounds, flowers, and green leaves from the garden. I never add more than 20% of a single ingredient, However, if you want, feed them a balanced diet.

I feed my worms about once a week, one corner at a time with lots of garbage in it. That food will break down within a month.

So by no means am I putting a lot of eggshells in my vermicomposting bin, but I definitely add them regularly.

Handful Worm Casting
Worms will also break down large pieces of eggshells in your garden if they don’t all break down in your regular compost bin.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eggshells in the Garden

Are There Benefits of Eggshells in the Garden?

Once broken down, the eggshells will add calcium to the soil. Calcium aids in cell and root development and helps in ripening of the fruit. It is considered a secondary nutrient and is essential for plant success.

However, calcium is naturally present in almost all soils and calcium deficiency is rarely a problem. So while eggshells can help with calcium and won’t harm the garden, they are not as beneficial as many advertise.

Which plants do not like eggshells?

Calcium can help make acidic soil more alkaline. Therefore, plants that prefer acidic soil, such as hydrangeas, blueberries, azaleas, geraniums, and violets, will not like the addition of eggshells.

How do I make eggshell compost?

The manure usually decomposes before the eggshells break down. You can do this by using a food processor or mortar and pestle to grind the eggshells and add them to the compost bin. But since it’s a lot of work, you might as well just break them up by hand and put them in the compost bin. Larger creatures in the garden will eventually help break down the eggshells.

Do Eggshells Deter Slugs?

People often say that eggshells, as well as other poky ingredients, will help deter soft-bodied pests like slugs and snails. The idea is that you sprinkle them on the soil and the slugs won’t like to climb on them.

In my experience, I haven’t noticed it working. I think other methods like growing tender plants in raised beds are a better option.

More gardening myths to know

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