Have you tried to start seeds in eggshells? It’s one of those ideas that seem so obvious when you come across it, but is not actually commonly followed. We know eggshells for plants are lovely – calcium carbonate! – but arranging eggshells for baby plants?! Who’da thunk! Gather some cracked eggshells, the box they came in, some seeds, and some seed starting mix, and let’s get down to it.
- Benefits of Starting Seeds in Eggshells
- Best Seeds to Plant in Eggshells
- How to Start Seeds in Eggshells
Being eco-friendly while starting seeds is basically about using biodegradable containers – such as toilet paper rolls – or reusable containers such as seed trays.
Eggshells (organic ones), though, are great because it’s going to your plants anyway (eggshells for plants), and it’s a perfect little biodegradable container to start seeds in!
Crack your eggs as carefully as you can, and keep the cracked eggshells in the egg carton they came in. You can just start with one eggshell, of course, but it’s more efficient to have half a dozen cracked eggshells sitting neatly in the carton, waiting to be filled with soil and seeds. Find a sunny spot to keep the carton.
Benefits of Starting Seeds in Eggshells
We’ve already seen how to start a balcony garden in your apartment, and eggshells are a great way to start the seeds that you want to plant in your small vertical garden. The thing is, eggshells from organic eggs are biodegradable, and a rich source of calcium, nitrogen and phosphoric acid for the soil. It’s a great addition to your apartment compost pile. Psst: You can add crushed eggshells to your tomato plants to give them an extra boost (and prevent blossom end rot, which is caused by a calcium deficiency).
In addition, eggshells are a safe snail and slug deterrent, and also help keep soil loose and aerated. Eggshells do all this in a natural and inexpensive way, so they’re ideal for the apartment gardener.
Best Seeds to Plant in Eggshells
Eggshell seed starters are perfect for those who live in smaller spaces. And most smaller seeds can be started in eggshells, whether they are vegetables, flowers, or herbs.
For starters, try these options below. With experience, you can try other seeds and learn a lot!
Fruits: strawberry, raspberry, lemon
Herbs: basil, cilantro, chamomile, mint, stevia, parsley, dill
How to Start Seeds in Eggshells
1 / Prepare the eggshells
First, wash the shells to remove any eggy remnants that might attract pests. If your eggs have not been pasteurized, then you can pasteurize the eggshells to remove all salmonella worries. The eggshells don’t need to be perfect-looking; as long as they can hold the soil that the seed (and eventual seedling) requires, that’s good enough.
2 / Fill in with seed-starting mix
Next, place your clean eggshells in the egg carton/tray, and carefully fill each one with moistened seed-starting mix.
3 / Plant the seeds
Carefully place seeds into each eggshell following instructions from the seed packet.
4 / Maintain ideal conditions for seed sprouting
Place the tray/carton at a sunny spot. If you have a south-facing window, keep it there.
You may not have a suitable sunny spot in your apartment. In that case, you could use LED grow lights and a heat mat to mimic those conditions. Make sure to protect the growing seedlings from cold drafts and extreme temperature variations.
Spray water regularly (every other day) to keep the mix moist. Remember that this isn’t a pot with drainage. The water will evaporate through the porous eggshell, but it would be best to simply spray a fine mist so that you don’t overwater it.
5 / Thin the seedlings and Harden
‘Shotlist’ the best seedlings once they emerge. You want to cut off the weakest ones, and thus allow more room (and nutrients) for the strongest ones to thrive.
Harden the seedlings by slowly introducing them to your balcony conditions. Place them outside for short durations (eg. 2 hours) that increases every day, until they are ready to be placed outdoors.
6 / Transplant
Once the true leaves have appeared, transplant the seedling into the pot you have earmarked for it.
Now, this is the fun part: the eggshells will decompose and nourish the soil, but you can also gently crush the eggshell into smaller pieces to help it along (without harming the seedling).
And that’s it! The seed has moved from eggshell to its final home in your balcony garden! It’s all set to grow and thrive.
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