As spring slowly crawls into western Washington, I have become inspired to begin propagating seeds for our garden. In the past I usually made recycled paper pots to grow my plants, but my friend James just shared a genius reuse idea for seed starts: egg shells pots.
Planting with egg shell pots is a simple, smart and economical idea to help you start growing your own food. Larger eggs are a bit easier to work with, and also provide more space for your seedlings, though any chicken or duck eggs should work fine. A half dozen egg shells sprouting with beautiful young plants can also be an ideal and creative Easter gift.
When getting ready to create your egg shell planters, it is always a good idea to plan on making a quiche, or something that requires several eggs, so that you have a ready use for the contents of your shells. In the past I have tried using the remaining shells from soft-boiled eggs for seedlings. This technique will also work, but I have found that shells that have been cooked tend to crack and break more easily.
How to Get Started
Begin with a few large eggs, a bowl and a sharp serrated knife. Cutting the top off of the egg is a little tricky, but you will get better with practice. Ideally you do not want to crack the egg shell in half, but rather just remove only the top quarter of the shell, or less, if possible.
Once your egg shell has been opened, drain the contents into a bowl, rinse the shell out with warm water, and leave it to air dry before filling it with dirt or planting mix. I put my planted shells back into their egg carton with the cover closed until the seeds sprout. This helps to keep the soil moisture more even, and has really increased my seed germination rates significantly. Once the seedlings poke their heads up, leave the egg carton open in a warm and sunny spot until they are ready to be transplanted into the ground.
Since we are still get some frost here at night, our seedlings have remained living indoors to protect the tender sprouts from the elements and from the voracious banana slugs. As soon as all danger of freezing is past, just plant the egg pot directly into the ground. The shell will biodegrade into the soil, and will give the earth a delicious calcium snack as well.
I usually give my planted shell a light squeeze before it goes into the soil; not enough to crush it, just to crack it slightly. This will help the seedling’s roots to break through the egg shell, and will also aid in the composting process.
Another thing to consider — if packs of marauding skunks or other creatures are a potential hazard in your garden, it is probably best to remove the egg shells entirely when transplanting the seedlings. Animals can be attracted to the buried shells, and they may devour your young seedlings, as well as all of your hard work.