By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Soil amendment is necessary in almost every garden. Low macro and micro-nutrients cause problems like blossom end rot, chlorosis and low fruit production. Organic gardeners like to turn to natural products for answers to common nutrient problems. Using eggs as a fertilizer is an old trick, but it can have some unpleasant secondary effects. Raw egg fertilizer may not be the best way to introduce calcium to your plants, but the shells are a bona fide true winner in the garden.
Our grandparents didn’t have access to the modern formulations for soil amendment and instead relied upon composting to boost soil fertility and tilth. We can take a page from their book and learn how to reuse our refuse and give back to the soil naturally. A time honored tradition is to place a raw, uncracked egg in the bottom of a planting hole for tomatoes. It has its benefits and its drawbacks as we will see.
Eggs contain high levels of calcium. This is an important nutrient for plants, especially vegetables and fruits. Eggs will leach the calcium into the soil for root uptake during composting, which can conquer such problems as blossom end rot. However, excess nitrogen and low pH will tie up calcium in soil, preventing uptake.
Using eggs as a fertilizer imparts calcium but it isn’t useful if the plant can’t access the nutrient. Always check your soil pH before planting a new garden and minimize the amount of nitrogen you introduce to soil after buds start to form.
One obvious problem to fertilizing with raw eggs is the smell. If you don’t bury the egg deep enough, over time it will begin to stink. Additionally, using whole eggs as fertilizer can attract unwanted pests. Raccoons and rodents will be attracted to the odor and dig out your baby plants in an effort to get to the potential food source.
Whole eggs as plant fertilizer aren’t the quickest way for your plants to get calcium because they take a while to break down. A better source is just from the shells, which are the main concentration of the nutrient. Use the eggs and save the shells for a quicker, less smelly way to keep your veggies from dropping blossoms.
In order to avoid issues with fertilizing with raw eggs, just use the shells. These are usually discarded after the egg itself is cooked but carry a calcium charge for your soil. Simply crush the shells and mix them into soil.
Another way to use eggshells is to boil them and water with the resulting liquid. This prevents the issues raised about raw egg fertilizer while still enhancing the soil. The University of Minnesota performed a test using distilled water and boiled eggshells. The resulting water had increased levels of calcium and potassium, both of which benefit plants, especially those that flower and fruit. Using the water to irrigate plants provides an easy way for roots to access these nutrients.
You can also make a foliar spray so leaves will draw the nutrients into the vascular system to utilize both elements. So eat your eggs, save your shells and fix your soil for bigger, better vegetable crops.
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I think they got the meaning wrong. Eggs, painted, are a symbol of fertility . Pagan children would hide their eggs by burying them. Hiding them from the christian children. This is where the whole dying eggs and hunting came from.
The whole egg would just sit in the ground and rot. You have heard of 100 year old egg. Yuk!
Actually Dono, 100 year old eggs are pretty good. I grew up with two families of Chinese from China. There may have been a time when they actually left them in the soil for 100 years. They don't now. A few months in special soil high in certain natural minerals does the job. The eggs are black on the inside from the minerals.
Eggs would probably add something to the mix if added to compost piles, but I haven't tried it. I don't think it would attract any more vermin to the garden than a lot of the fish products used as soil amendments today.
My wife and I eat very few eggs. We will buy a carton and use a few, but a few months later, I look at the carton and determine the eggs probably are no longer good to eat and toss them. I may break them and add them to the compost along with the shells in the future.
Using them direct in the soil as fertilizer is an interesting idea. I don't think just burying one unbroken with a tomato or pepper is a good idea. Maybe breaking one or two into a predug hole and scrambling them into the soil at the bottom of the hole might be beneficial. You probably would need to fill the hole back in and let it set for a week or so before re-digging the hole and planting the plant after stirring the dirt good might work. It would certainly attract bacteria. Would they be beneficial bacteria is unknown to me.
This is slowly becoming a garden blog, but I promise soon this will change. It’s just that time of the season where things happen in the garden daily – sometimes small things, sometimes bigger things. Today a small thing happened. I made my first DIY fertilizer.
I was watching my favorite belgian garden guy online, and he visited a belgian actress who shared her secret DIY fertilizer recipe with him and as it sounded really effective, I will share it below with you. I rarely watch “tv” these days, but when I do I’m mostly watching Belgian or English programs and often they evolves around gardening. Due to this I’m also developing a bit of a Belgian accent, I wish I picked up French as quickly, but maybe I should start watching French garden shows for that. If you know any good garden/nature shows I should watch that are spoken in French, please let me know.
Anyhow back to the fertilizer!
What do you need:
What do you do:
And then, just place everything in the blender, close it, keep your hand on top and just mix it up for a minute or three. And you’re done! I briefly considered using a different blender than the one that I used for food stuff. But then I thought about it a second longer and decided I was being crazy, since the only thing that I use for this fertilizer are things that are pretty “normal” and couldn’t be of any danger of my food blender if I just wash it normally afterwards. I don’t know, the look of the fertilizer somehow made me think *iewuk* for a split second.
Now you just pour the fertilizer you made in the watering can and add some extra water to it so that it’s more easy to spread where you want to spread it in the garden. I used it on a bed where the plants were pretty “down” looking and needed some extra power. I also did it right before I expected it to rain (which it didn’t :S). The fertilizer will contain some small chunks of whatever, and you might find it difficult to pour from a watering can with small holes, if so, just use one with one big hole. Afterwards just clean your blender and your watering can and you are ready to start watching your plants grow.
I’ve tried to find some more information about why banana peels etc are good for your garden and you can find several different sources that say that banana peels are good for roses. Coffee grind and egg shells are more commenly used to energise your soil. You can also place those two in your composting unit, you can’t do that with banana’s as it composts very slowly and it might slow down your whole composting pile. That won’t happen this way. It’s just another way to use our every day trash in a more sustainable way – me thinks.
I think I’ll make more of these mixes soon for our rose bushes down in the garden. I first need to figure out what mix works best for them. If you use this, don’t use too much of it at one place and only use a little bit if you use it in pots. It’s too concentrated for pots. It works better in open fields I’ve read.
I’ll update you on some miraculous growth if I see something interesting that happens in that crappy looking bed. If you are also making your own fertilizer from leftovers in the kitchen, please share some secrets with me. I’m very willing to learn.
Interested in gardening and organic composting? These books might be of interest to you:
What garden doesn’t love beautiful bird visitors? Before and after laying eggs, mamma birds need calcium.
Sterilize your eggshells by boiling them or baking in a 200-degree oven for 10 to 20 minutes — until they are dry but not browned inside.
Crumble and place them in a bird feeder or on the grass surrounding your garden. For a really tasty treat, mix with birdseed.
You have to collect and store the shells correctly before using it as fertilizer. You may face a common problem during the collection of eggshells.
The smell of the rotten eggs after storing it. No worries, there are 2 methods, you can use to store this organic fertilizer without smell.
After washing properly you can dry them next to the heater or in the sun. This way you can get rid of the smell.
But the downside is that the films contain valuable substances that will simply be removed when you wash them.
You cannot use plastic bags to store raw materials, as the product will accumulate moisture and deteriorate.
Calcination is a more troublesome method. As you will still have to collect a certain number of shells. However, it will be easier to crush the eggshells and break it into powder.
Similar to the spray version, you can dry your banana peels and grind them into a fertilizer. If you only have a few peels to use up, but want to use them effectively on many plants, this is a great option.
Here’s the deal: Dry your banana peels using the method I go into at the end of this article. Once dry, g rind the peels in a coffee or spice grinder. Add to your garden soil directly, either by sprinkling as a side dressing or gently incorporating into the dirt, making sure to avoid your plants’ roots.
Above: Like oysters, eggshells used as mulch provide a striking accent in the garden. If you gather enough, you can even apply a layer thick enough to deter weeds.
Looking for more recycled garden how-tos? See our guide to Edible Gardens 101 and more posts: