Growing your own plants from seed is supposed to save you money, but after buying all the seeds, soil, pots, lights and heating pads you begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. Are you really saving anything? If you really want to save some dough, look to “old school” methods of gardening, the ones that taught us to mend or make do. Way back when, before the days of peat pots and trays, folks used eggshells for sprouting seeds.
Benefits of Starting Seeds in Eggshells
Starting your seeds in eggshells has a number of merits:
- They’re practically free. They are the disposable part of the egg, the part you don’t eat.
- By using them, you’re recycling — finding another use for something that is typically discarded.
- They add nutrients to the soil because they are transplanted into the ground right along with the seedling. Eggshells are especially high in calcium.
- They make the transplanting process easier because the entire shell goes into the ground, avoiding transfer shock on the plant.
- Once in the ground, they deter certain pests and insects, including grubs that dislike their coarse feel and won’t go near a plant that has them around it.
- Eggshells are fun to use, and so easy that even a child can do it. In fact, this makes a great project for the entire family and is one used by many grade-school teachers.
How to Use Eggshells as Seed Starting Pots
Gather the following items:
Ice pick (or sharp pointed knife)
Seed starting mix
- Collect eggshells for several weeks. As you use them, try to break off the very tip of the egg only, so you’re keeping more than half of it intact. Rinse the shells thoroughly and store in a sealed plastic tub to keep odors at bay until you are ready to use the shells. (If you find store-bought eggshells too brittle, try buying fresh eggs from a local farmer.)
- When you are ready to plant, take your ice pick (of knife) and make a tiny hole in the bottom of each shell for drainage.
- Set the eggshells inside the egg cartons and fill them with your seed-starting mix using a spoon.
- Plant several seeds in each shell, following the guidelines on the back of the seed packet.
- Moisten the soil thoroughly with water using the spray bottle. Set the cartons in a location that gets plenty of light and steady temperatures of between 65 and 75 degrees.
- Keep the soil from drying out and turn the carton occasionally to promote even growth.
- When the seedlings are ready to transplant outdoors, cut the egg cartons into individual sections. Tap the eggshell gently on a hard surface to break it and give the roots breathing room and a chance to grow. Place both carton section and eggshell directly into the ground. Both the shell and the cardboard will eventually biodegrade into the soil.