Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How To: Plant Seeds Using Eggshells


We were excited when our Sprout Robot alert went off that it was time to start broccoli seeds indoors this weekend for our zip code. With the move and being in the midst of colder months, we are seriously lacking in the gardening department, except for our avocado sprouts (which we have an exciting update on coming tomorrow).

We located our organic broccoli seed packet from last year's garden and hit up our gardening Pinterest boards (mine & hers) where we've been collecting ideas for creative planting all winter. We had one particular idea we'd seen pinned in mind and couldn't wait to try for ourselves — eggshell seed planters.


Evidently, eggshells make the perfect size seed starters, are natural, biodegradable, can be planted directly into the soil after being cracked a little, and supply nourishment to the plant and surrounding soil (not to mention they're free).

After saving the shells from this week's eggs, we set out to make our eggshell planters. Today we're sharing just how we went about it for those of you that might also want to give it a whirl as planting season starts up!

You'll Need:
  • Eggs
  • Egg carton
  • Seeds
  • Planting soil
  • Small spoon
  • Spray bottle
  • Awl, or wide sharp needle
1. When cracking the eggshells, slice the top part of the egg (narrower end) with a sharp knife and gently pour the egg from the opening for use.


2. Reserve eggshells, rinse well inside and out with water. For extra caution, we decided to boil the shells for a few minutes to make sure all traces of egg were cleaned out. You can see how the shells foamed up a bit, letting us know we hadn't gotten everything out with the simple rinse.


3. Rinse eggshells again, and gently place them back in their egg carton to dry. Once dry, gently chip any rough edges of the eggs to desired opening size.


4. Use awl, or wide sharp needle to gently puncture a single hole in the base of the eggshell. This will create a drainage hole for your egg planter. I punctured our shells from the inside against a thin kitchen towel, then reinforced through the back-end to ensure proper drainage could take place. During this step, you may have to remove parts of the thin membrane alongside the eggshell.


5. Place eggshells back in carton and spray gently with water using your spray bottle.


6. With a small spoon, gently scoop planting or potting soil into eggshell to fill (we went with Burpee organic seed starting mix). You may want to gently shake egg to even out soil.


7. Plant seeds according to directions to determine depth and any other special care.


8. Spritz again gently with spray bottle and place in well lit area with sun indoors.


9. Water plants accordingly, watch and wait for your seedlings to sprout.


 

10. Once sprouts have grown large enough to transfer, thin them out and plant directly into the ground or larger planter after gently cracking the eggshell around them. The roots will grow beyond the eggshell into the soil, the shell will continue to provide nourishment to the plant and surrounding soil, and will eventually will biodegrade.


It took our seeds just a few days to sprout up in their eggshell planters — much faster than they have in the past with plastic containers we've used. We'll keep you posted on the progress of our little broccoli plants and hope you'll let us know if you give it a whirl!

If you're as eager to try out this project as we were, plug in your zip code to Sprout Robot and see what seed varieties are ready for indoor planting in your area.

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42 comments:

  1. Such a great idea! Thanks for the tutorial. I was wondering about your avocados. Sounds like you've done well with those :)

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    1. Yes - they've continued to slowly develop which we are glad of - secretly worried they might just give up after the move.

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  2. We are going to be starting a garden at my children's school this spring. What a wonderful idea for them to begin the shoots indoors while we are building their beds!

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    1. Lisa! What a great idea and good way to help keep the kids involved. We hope you'll shoot some pics our way when and if you get the chance!

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  3. My father always added rinsed egg shells directly to his watering "pail" for his inside plants. Then, they were in there waiting, ready to go for his weekly or bi-weekly plant watering (whatever time schedule he was on).

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    1. Shannon, that is so cool - did he use them as a supplement to the water to add nutrients when watering? How clever.

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  4. I'm so happy to find this web site! However, I question the necessity (and perhaps even the wisdom) of boiling the shells. We eat the contents of that shell! The residual inside the shell and the membrane are natural and undoubtedly full of nutrients. It seems to me that they would only contribute to the growth process. It will all biodegrade, and I don't understand why it should be necessary to destroy those parts of the eggshell.

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    1. Hey there!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop in and say hello - so glad to have you here! We think your insight here could be spot on and admit to being overly cautious when it came to the boiling stage, trying to wipe out any chance of salmonella.

      We hope you'll try these little planters and let us know how it works out if you forgo the boiling stage!

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  5. I have planted a host of seedlings in egg shells and never washed the shells, in fact I've been told the unwashed eggshells are great for plants...lots of vitamins...

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    1. So good to hear you've tried it and it works fine — gives us the courage to forgo the boil next time round!

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  6. i love this! just in time for my seed planting!!

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  7. I've been using eggshell starters successfully for over three decades. Learned from my Grandfather. In later life he always called eggs GMVs (God's multi-vitamins).

    Consider these tips:

    1. Just brake the eggs into two at the center and you get double the number of planters and it is much easier. Large or X-Large eggs work best.

    2. Don't rinse at all, just place shells in sunshine for four hours to a day. Great, free, and safe sanitizer. The dried egg white is a free additional fertilizer. Be sure egg interior faces up so the sun can work.

    3. An awl is OK, or go ahead and fill with your seed starting mixture. Then you can just give the gentlest of taps to get a crack on the bottom, and the water will seep out just fine.

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    1. Loved these tips! Thanks so much — we are marking them for when we get started planting again!

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    2. won't the egg shells smell, i heard that from somewhere else

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  8. I'm going to try this! Also, I can't get www.sproutrobot.com to work. Keep getting an application error. Anyone else?

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    1. Hey Donna,

      So glad you might try it — sprout robot website seems to be working OK on this end — are you still having trouble accessing it?

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  9. I love your web site, such fantastic ideas! Thank you for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Colleen Donovan (Western Australia)

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  10. Cuteness overload! If learning cotyledon and dicotyledon is this fun, I would have wanted to have a green thumb way back in grade school! In case you lack pots at home when badly needed to plant, eggshells are great. You may place it in a new pot if they outgrow the shells anyway. I wonder how cute they are hanging from the roof of my little greenhouse.

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  11. Another goodie. Much cheaper than the oh so expensive bio-degradables.
    And, we 're always told to keep the crushed egg shells to mulch around the rosemary pots. Any thoughts?

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  12. Now there's an idea! We're kind of low on backyard space so we can't really set up a garden of our own back there. With these, I could probably start getting some tomatoes growing for our own use.

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  13. An older person,countrywise also told me about the eggshells mulch and rosemary plants. I wondered if the benefits were worth passing on and so I put them around everything ( better keep moving around or..........).

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  14. The cardboard egg cartons can also be used as biodegradable seed starters. I use them to start my herbs. Plant the entire egg cup side of the carton, cut them apart when the seedlings are tall enough, and plant the cup.

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    1. So great to know Gaia, thanks for sharing the tip!

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  15. I used this method of starting my seeds this year, and can't believe the success I have had! My tomato plants especially, are AMAZING! Thank you for the idea, and I will surely be using it from now on!

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    1. Thanks Leslie for letting us know and for following along in our little world!

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  16. Hey, guys! I ran across your site when I was looking for information about planting spring onions (scallions) indoors... little did I know that you were practically right up the street from me! I live in Southside, on the other side of the river, but it's still neat to know that the people behind this awesome blog are right up the road!

    I've just started my first indoor veggies, and now have three tomato sprouts, two dill sprouts and one spring onion sprout coming out of the ground. I've also just planted three spring onion tips that I discovered in the bowels of my fridge after reading your post! I've also got some green beans planted, and some garlic, but they're apparently shy and haven't come out of the soil yet.

    I love the idea of using egg shells for planters, especially for tomato plants, because they really need the calcium, and while reading up on planting them, I've read numerous times to mix crushed egg shells in the dirt.

    I really want to try growing the pineapple, too!

    I'd only recently learned about being able to re-grow celery and romaine lettuce... I actually did so with the celery, and it had some really beautiful regrowth, but the person who told me about it neglected to mention that I was supposed to plant it in dirt after a while! (I guess I should have figured it out on my own, but once all of the celery base had rotted away, I simply tossed it out... now I'm pretty sad that I did so, it was AWESOME)

    You mentioned having gnat issues... you may want to look up fungus gnats... a real issue with houseplants, and they will hurt the roots of your babies. Thanks to the soil I bought that was kind enough to come pre-infested, I have now had to take steps to rid my seedlings of these pests, so they don't damage, maim or kill my plants before they even have a chance to get started!

    If you're interested in seeing/watching my progress, I've linked my blog to my name :)

    Just wanted to wave hello to a neighbor, hope you guys have a great week!

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    1. So nice to meet another Richmond blogger! We are so happy you found us. Sounds like you have quite the green thumb! We look forward to following your progress and we hope you will visit us often!

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  17. Is this seedling (broccoli) for this winter? I have just started planting garlic. I['m not sure if it's time. Thanks for sharing your eggshell seed starter. I am the founder of Zogam Reforestation Projects at www.greenzogam.com. When I go back to Burma, my country, I will show/teach my people all the good things youo have shared. Thank you so much.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comments! This was actually for a Spring crop of broccoli but you could certainly plant a winter crop.

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  18. thank you very much
    شكرا جزيلا لكم

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  19. How cool to meet a Richmond gardener online! I'm a Richmond native now transplanted in Hadensville (just west of Short Pump)! I've tried a variety of other seedling-start methods, but this one is my fav and what I'll be using from now on (last year's experiment with toilet paper cores didn't work nearly as well).

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    1. Welcome to RVA and we are glad you found us!

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  20. Hi. This is really interesting. What would be the problem with using the shells from boiled eggs rather than uncooked?

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    1. It might be a little harder getting a complete half shell but if you can then no issues at all!

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  21. Im gonna try this in the spring. I always put shells in my soil but have nevrr planted in them. I find grinding the shells into a powder with a mortar and pestal or food processor helps the plant absorb the nutrients better and faster. Plus, no sharp pieces to cut the roots or your hands.

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  22. 1 onion, 3 sticks celery, quarter of a small cabbage and left over vegetables.
    Among the merienda recipes are Baked Kamoteng Kahoy (cassava) and Bibingka.
    So the greatest issue really is to count on only refreshing ingredients.


    Feel free to surf to my site :: healthy recipes

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  23. I've done this for years and love it! I always mix my seed starting mix with water in a bowl until it is all moist before I spoon it into the eggs. I find that the mix has a hard time taking the water at first if I don't do this. I've never boiled the eggs, as I figured a few remnants of egg wouldn't hurt, but i may do that in the future.

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  24. Great idea!
    What is the purpose of washing out the egg shells? Boiling the egg shells?
    That seems like a lot of water and energy.
    Why not just put the dirt right into the eggshell? A little bit of raw egg won't hurt your seedlings!

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