Words by: Boston Seedlings
I always find it interesting to think about the way living things grow. As humans, we control and consume what’s good for us (for the most part), and we have found endless ways to destroy that which is in our way in the name of our own betterment and growth. But if, for a minute, we disassociate ourselves from our extreme practices as humans (who are undoubtedly plundering the Earth) and we look at this from a more basic level, all living things go through a process of give and take and exert forces on other living organisms for their own survival.
Even in a seemingly benign practice like gardening, we are always confronted with this reality. How do I protect the things I help grow from other living and breathing things that would otherwise destroy them? There are of course many answers to this question, and if you are reading this blog, you are probably not interested in the chemical-infused option, but the more natural option still involves an order of dominance putting garden over pests. I suppose when we make the decision to garden, we also make the decision to protect it and help it thrive, so here is one way to do it organically.
In the garden, beetles and slugs can do a number on your plants, so to battle these unwanted garden visitors, you can save up your Pete and Gerry’s Organic eggshells and put them to work. There is a well known organic pesticide called diatomaceous earth, which is basically the fossilized remains of creatures ground into a fine powder. This works as a pesticide control because it gets under the shells of beetles and acts like bits of glass, killing them quickly. Snails and slugs will also die if they slink across these upcycled leftovers. Gross and cruel as it sounds, this is the reality of protecting your garden, and I think it’s best when we are honest about and conscious of the actions we take. Instead of purchasing diatomaceous earth at the store or online, we can make our own using leftover organic eggshells.
With so many benefits to using eggshells in the garden, my scraps never make it to the trash.
To get to work, you'll just need a few eggshells, a food processor, a paper bag, and paper towels. Before starting, be sure to rinse the inside of the shells to get rid of any leftover materials.
You can place the eggshells on a paper towel or put them in a paper bag for a few days; the key is to make sure that they are not stacked. If you stack them, they might start to mold and stink a bit, which I learned the hard way. The other way you can dry the eggs is by putting them on a baking tray in the oven at 180F for about 20 minutes, which was my preferred method after testing this out.
Once you’ve dried your eggshells, they will be a bit brittle. I crushed these with a rock at first but found they were more easily broken down by simply squishing them in a paper towel or a paper bag. This step is just to help compact everything. After crushing, I used my mini food processor to grind mine down further (aim for pieces smaller than 1/12 of an inch if you can) and was pretty happy with the results.
Thankfully, I have not had to put this new recipe to use yet, but I will definitely be ready when the time comes. You can make this powder, use it right away, or store it uncovered in a dry location for later use. Mine is in my garage along with the rest of my garden goodies.
When battling unwanted creatures in the garden, you can apply the eggshell powder directly onto the plants as well as at the base of the plant. Be aware that you should re-apply it after a heavy rain. Because eggshells are so versatile, you can use them as pest control as well as nutrition for your plants, be it for growing tomatoes or making compost.
October 04, 2020
I have no oven for driying the egg shells. If dry it on korai?
October 05, 2020
That's a great question. If you don't have an oven for drying, you can place the eggshells on a paper towel or put them in a paper bag for a few days. Hope this helps!
September 26, 2020
How many times should i put eggshell on my plants as fertilizer?
September 29, 2020
Great questions Fe. We like to till them into the soil in the fall and then mix more into the soil in the spring. Excited to hear how this works for you!
September 24, 2020
I like this.idea.not to have to use chemicals
September 25, 2020
Thanks Mary, us too. And we love that it puts our empty eggshells to use. We hope you have great luck with this.
September 02, 2020
I have just ground my eggshells, mixed it with kraal manue, applied to my strawberries. Am waiting for good yield.
Can't wait to hear how this goes for you. Wishing you a healthy yield!
August 21, 2020
I have soaked the egg shell powder in vinegar. And use it for plants.
Hey Teresa, This sounds like a wonderful idea. Just make sure there isn't too much acid in your vinegar solution, as the roots of the plants can start to rot due to over acidity in the soil.
October 21, 2020
I learned that best way to do this is mix 1 part powdered eggshells with 9 parts vinegar and let it ferment in a covered bottle for 30 days (in a dark warm area). After fermentation, mix 1 to 2 tbsp of the resulting liquid with 1 liter of natural water (no chlorine or use tap water only after exposing it to the air for 24 hrs.). Shake well and you can either use a spray bottle to spray on the plants or water them twice a week.
Thanks for sharing, Dan! We will have to give this a try.
June 27, 2020
Wonderful idea! I've been purchasing Diatomaceous earth. I'll make my own now. Thanks!
June 29, 2020
Yes, this has worked wonders for us. We hope you have great luck with this as well, Joyce!
June 23, 2020
Will try the eggshells
June 24, 2020
We hope you are successful with this method, Belinda!
April 19, 2020
Hi thank you for this idea. I also have a ton of worm/caterpillars that are eating everything! Got a solution?
April 20, 2020
What a lively garden you have, Michelle! Worms and caterpillars are quite different when it comes to gardening. We suggest taking a few pictures of these problem pests and asking your local garden center for advice specific to your area. We hope your garden finds some protection soon!
April 16, 2020
Thanks for sharing! What about the membrane inside the shell? Can it be dried and ground or do I need to peel it off of the shell before processing?
Hi Jen! Great question! There's no need to remove the membrane on the inside of the shell before processing your shells. So long as you make sure to rinse them thoroughly before storing or boiling them, you should be good to go!
April 22, 2020
I heard you can give egg shells to cats with food !! Is that correct ??
We've heard that as well! Egg shells are a great source of calcium, so it wouldn't be surprising if this was recommended as a supplement for keeping your cat's bones strong too. We would recommend checking with your local veterinarian to double check before doing so.
April 14, 2020
I have earwigs they eat everything how I can get rid of them
Those are tough ones, Xiomara! We've had great luck using diatomaceous earth in our gardens to fight earwigs, and powdered eggshells would also work well. If you'd like a few more ideas, we found this helpful article from The Spruce on dealing with earwigs in the garden: https://bit.ly/3bgu2Js. Good luck!
April 12, 2020
Diatomaceous earth is super cheap, and inexpensive. My last purchase was a 25# garbage bin full, for about $1.00 a pound.
Also very effective. I've used it for everything from aphids to roaches (don't ask- not my home)
I HAVE used eggshells as dietary supplements for pets and livestock, and a very good soil addititve/compost with coffee grounds, as well.
April 13, 2020
Diatomaceous earth is another great option, Quinn. So glad to hear that it's worked for you! Thanks for sharing all the cool ways you've used our eggshells, too - so many good ideas!
April 11, 2020
Eggshells are made from calcium. They are not the same thing as diatomaceous earth. Making pesticide or repellant claims for something that hasn’t been tested is misleading. Ps I do love your eggs. I also tried eggshells last year to keep slugs off my strawberries. - didn’t work- however you can use the ground eggshell to boost calcium in your tomato plants and prevent blossom rot. You can also put the ground eggshells as a calcium supplement to your chickens as part of their feed if they aren’t laying.
Hi Jessica! You're absolutely right that diatomaceous earth and eggshells are not one in the same. Speaking from personal experience, we've found that both are great options for pest control, although we understand that like any natural pesticide, they won't work in every situation. Even if they fail to keep pests out of your garden, eggshells still serve a wonderful purpose, as you've pointed out: feeding the plants!
Crushed egg shells repel slugs and soft bodied insects because it is abrasive and causes cuts and tears. Slugs will avoid it. It’s not effective because you have to reapply more often than your able to eat eggs to get the shells for.
January 17, 2022
Hi Manfred. You can obtain more eggshells from bakeries around your neighborhood.
Hi Manfred! Like any natural option, crushed eggshells are only effective to a certain point. They're great for small gardens or even indoor plants, but may not be quite as helpful for large outdoor spaces where pests abound.
May 20, 2019
May 28, 2019