I had the pleasure of growing up in a family that understood the rich benefits of growing our own food. We didn’t have any farm animals, but we did have an awesome garden every summer.
There is absolutely nothing like those first green beans or that first BLT of the season! YUM! So, as I grew up and got married, I knew it was something I’d want to teach our kids as well. Not only would my kids know the work it takes to grow your own food, but they would also reap the benefits of a healthy diet and knowing how to fuel their bodies.
Fortunately, my husband had parents that taught him these same values, so we set out to grow our first garden. There were a lot of ups and downs and learning curves. And while I don’t consider myself a “professional” gardener, I have learned some tips along the way. For a couple summers, we even ran an organic CSA share program. Our kids learned the value of hard work and a dollar those summers. These are memories we will cherish forever!
My father-in-law taught us so much about gardening and raising chickens! See those two high tunnel greenhouses in the back? Those were full of organic goodness. We also had a 1 acre garden plot in our backyard that we gardened by HAND!
If you’re anything like us, you already have your garden mapped out for the year. Or, if you live anywhere warmer than we do (which is almost anywhere! Haha!), you may already have your garden planted! We’re a couple weeks out from being able to plant our gardens here in Minnesota, but we are definitely getting things cleaned up and ready.
Part of our normal routine in gardening is utilizing the eggshells from our flocks’ eggs. It’s a great source of calcium along with phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals for the plants. And the best part? It’s free! Well, is anything really free? Of course you have to feed your chickens and take good care of them for them to be happy laying hens, but you get my point.
How Do I Use Eggshells in My Garden?
For the most part, I leave our eggs unwashed on the counter. However, I give them a quick rinse before I use them. After I crack the egg into a bowl, I rinse the shells and put them in a bowl or jar on the counter to air dry. Once I've gathered enough shells, I will happily use them while we plant our garden. We will sprinkle some in the holes and then place our plants on top. Egg shells are rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium and provide those much needed nutrients to our plants. Eggshells are also a great pest deterrent. The sharp edges of the shells slice through the pests and keep them away from the roots and plants.
Which Plants Like Eggshells?
I remember going out the garden one day many years ago and being so discouraged to find these black spots on the bottom of our tomatoes. They were big, juicy tomatoes that looked like they’d been in a fight. Upon some research, I found out that “end rot” is caused by a lack of calcium. Eggshells give the plants that extra boost to ensure there’s enough calcium available to the plants which in turn, provides enough nutrients for healthy fruit. There are multiple plants that benefit from eggshells in your garden. Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, flowers, strawberries and squash to name a few!
To Crush or Not to Crush Eggshells?
There are different schools of thought on this. If you’re noticing a problem in your plants, it would make most sense to pulverize the shells into an easy to absorb powder. If you’re simply using the shells to get things started or pest control, I just crush them into little pieces. This allows them to slowly decompose into the soil around the plant while they keep pests away.
Eggshells are also excellent to feed back to your chickens! This provides them with a calcium rich source that they need to continue with healthy egg production. A healthy adult laying hen needs somewhere between 4-5g of calcium per day! While I always have oyster shells on hand for them, they gobble up their own eggshells as well. It’s a simple way for me to ensure the girls are getting everything they need.
If you’ve been gardening for years or just getting started, I’d encourage you to implement eggshells into your plan. Something I love so much about eggs is that you literally can use every part of the egg! Nothing is wasted. And crushed up eggshells in a jar on your counter is actually kind of pretty!
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady