Around the world, the typical individual consumes 161 eggs every single year. And that’s just the average. In countries where eggs are egg-stremely popular (sorry), such as Mexico, per-capita annual consumption is an impressive 360 eggs.
All those eggs means a lot of broken eggshells, which most of the time are thrown straight in the trash. But did you know that eggshells have a surprising number of handy uses in your home and garden?
In this post, we break down how to turn your eggshell trash into treasure.
Add nutrients to your soil
Looking for ways to give your garden a new lease of life? Eggshells are packed full of nutrients like calcium that break down naturally into your soil to be absorbed by your plants.
Fast-growing plants – such as herbs, annuals, and vegetables like cucumbers and radishes – can deplete your soil of calcium very quickly. Eggshells are a great, organic way to reintroduce calcium into the soil and keep things healthy.
Gardenesque recommends sprinkling crushed eggshells over your containers or garden borders in the wintertime, ready for your spring planting. An alternative is to sprinkle the shell directly into your planting holes before adding your seeds or bulbs.
You can crush your shells with a pestle and mortar, food processor, or even a coffee grinder. Some people prefer to ‘bake’ their shells beforehand to remove any moisture or lingering bacteria.
You can also ‘batch brew’ your own fertilizer by mixing your crushed eggshells with white vinegar. Doing a bit at a time, mix one part eggshell to one part vinegar. Let it sit for an hour or so, before adding to water (about 4 tablespoons of solution to a gallon of water). Give it a good shake, then use it to water your plants as normal.
Keep pests away from your plants
There’s nothing worse than going out to your garden to find that slugs and snails have ravaged your leafy greens.
There are plenty of pest deterrents on the market, but many people prefer not to use synthetic compounds in their garden. And of course, slug pellets and other similar products can be toxic to household pets.
Enter the trusty eggshell. Try sprinkling shards of shell around the base of your plants – their jagged edges will act as a hefty deterrent to slugs and snails. We’d definitely recommend baking your shells first though. You don’t want to attract a whole host of other pests by leaving tasty morsels of egg around!
Feed the birds
It might seem a little counterintuitive to feed eggs to birds, but hear us out. That high calcium content that’s so beneficial to your plants can also be incredibly useful to nesting birds.
To make their eggs, common garden birds like robins and sparrows have to use a huge amount of calcium. In order to recover well after laying, they need access to plentiful calcium stores. That’s where eggshells can help – particularly for birds that don’t eat seed or suet, like robins.
The National Audubon Society recommends baking your chicken eggshells at about 250 degrees for ten minutes until dry. Then, just grind them up and mix them with your regular birdseed, or sprinkle them directly onto the ground.
You’ll be reducing your household food waste, and your feathered friends will thank you for the nutritious meal.
Enrich your compost
Eggshells are a great thing to add to your compost heap. They’re nutrient-rich and add some much-needed ‘grit’ to your compost, helping to stop material sticking to the side of your container.
Again, it’s a good idea to break your eggshells up a bit before adding them to your pile, as this will help them to decompose more quickly.
If you’re using a countertop compost alternative such as the FoodCycler™, we highly recommend adding eggshells into your FoodCycler's food waste bucket. Things like eggshells, coffee grinds, and citrus peels help to absorb excess moisture produced by soft fruits and vegetables. (There’s no need to break up your eggshells if you’re using a FoodCycler!)
Once your cycle is done, you’ll be able to take your lovely aerated by-product and use it to nurture your plants.
Germinate your seedlings
As well as looking extremely cute, eggshells actually make a very practical alternative to plant pots when it comes to germinating seedlings. Because they’re biodegradable, you can pop them straight into the ground when it’s time to transplant.
To create a cozy home for your seedling, make a small drainage hole in the bottom of your eggshell using a safety pin or similar. Then, carefully fill the shell with your potting soil.
(We recommend using a nutrient-rich mix of soil and the by-product generated by the FoodCycler. Check out our recent post on germinating seedlings to find out how to use your FoodCycler to create an ideal organic fertilizer for your seeds.)
Add your seeds to your pots – usually just a few per shell, depending on what you’re planting. You can use the carton your eggs came in to hold your little eggshell pots until they’re ready to plant out. Just be careful when handling them, as eggshells are notoriously delicate!
Looking for more ways to reduce food waste?
It’s always satisfying when you put something to use that might otherwise have gone straight in the trash. And eggshells are just one of many examples! On our FoodCycler™ 101 blog, we share tons of handy tips and ideas on how to reduce your household food waste.
And of course, a really easy way to cut down on waste and generate nutritious fertilizer for your garden is to use a FoodCycler™ food waste recycler.
Check out our new Eco 5™ model, with an amazing 5L capacity as well as our innovative Vortech™ Grinding System. Eco 5™ can transform your food waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment in just a few hours, making it easier than ever to take care of your indoor and outdoor plants!
A Note on Terminology
The FoodCycler® is a countertop electric food waste recycler that breaks down food scraps through a mechanical process into a dry, lightweight by-product that can be used in gardening applications as a fertilizer. The FoodCycler® and other electric food waste recyclers are not composters, nor do they produce compost or soil as they do not require additional microbes to break down food waste with bacteria. However, the term "electric composter" has been used to describe electric food waste recyclers.