By Anna Cottrell published
You've probably heard that using eggs in the garden is a great way to add nutrients to plants, deter pests, and solve all sorts of other gardening issues.
Eggs are a staple food in many people's diets, and we discard many eggshells (easily hundreds a year) that may have beneficial use in the garden. But how do you know whether using eggs makes sense in your particular garden?
While we wouldn't suggest that you should expect miracles from your old eggshells, we've listed a few of the clever ways you can reuse them in your garden and busted a couple of the egg shell gardening myths along the way.
- See: 5 ways to use coffee grounds in the garden – extraordinary ways to boost your blooms
1. Using crushed eggshells to add nutrients to your soil
This is by far the most common use for eggs in the garden. Eggs contain calcium, as well as traces of other elements including magnesium and phosphorus. It is great for adding nutrients to your soil and compost.
Having said that, most soil in North America is already rich in calcium, so you may not need to add any more. Also, if you add egg to acidic soil, then the calcium won't be absorbed by your plants. In fact, you may end up with excess nitrogen in your soil, which will do more harm than good. Do a simple PH check of your soil to see whether you should be adding egg.
- See: Flower bed ideas – 10 beautiful ways to create floral displays in your garden
2. Using eggs to prevent blossom end rot
Some people swear by adding egg to the base of plants prone to blossom end rot, especially tomatoes and zucchini. However, what people don't know is that blossom end rot mainly affects first-year blossoms.
If you're still experiencing problems the second year in, then it's time to give eggshells a chance to do its calcium-enhancing magic. You can also try companion planting to reduce all kinds of problems with tomatoes and other plants.
3. Using eggshells as mulch
Eggshells make for excellent mulch, helping plants retain moisture and repelling weeds. You do need quite a lot of eggshell to make enough mulch, though, so you will need to get whipping up those cakes and omelettes to build up a large enough store of shells.
4. Using eggs to repel pests – fact or fiction?
Opinion is divided on whether eggshells repel slugs, beetles, and other insects you don't want near your plants. The mechanism with repelling slugs is clear enough: the sharp edges of crushed eggshell cut slugs, so they avoid them.
In reality, this works only if your eggshells stay dry. Watering and rain will both interfere with this hack from working, so it is one to try on dry days, or try another method instead.
5. Using eggshells to feed wild birds
This is the best use of eggs in the garden. Wild birds that visit our gardens are often calcium-deficient and will eat small bits of crushed eggshells as a supplement. For that reason alone, it's well worth scattering crushed eggshell in your garden.
- See: Wildlife garden ideas, from The National Trust’s garden experts
Should I use whole raw egg or crushed eggshells?
Using a whole raw egg in the garden is a bit of a waste of an egg – all the nutrients needed for plants and/or wildlife are in the eggshells.
'Raw egg fertilizer may not be the best way to introduce calcium to your plants', writes Certified Urban Agriculturalist Bonnie L. Grant in Gardeningknowhow. Use the eggshells instead – and bake them to disinfect them if using to feed birds.
Anna Cottrell is Consumer Editor across Future Plc Home titles. She has a background in academic research and is the author of London Writing of the 1930s. She writes about interior design, property, and gardening.
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