I love it when gardeners come over. I always learn something new about my space through their questions. And it’s usually the questions I answer “no” to that bring something to my attention that I didn’t think about before.
A friend recently came over, who’s pretty into fruit trees and nerded out with me over my espaliers and visions of a mini-orchard. Of course, when he asked me what I did to establish my trees, I had a very simple answer – not much. I know that it’s better to add compost as a mulch than in the beginning hole so that you encourage good root growth. I did that. I know that it’s good to plant bare root trees on top of a mound of soil with the roots spreading out and flowing down. I did that. I learned that it’s best for the tree to have good exposure to east facing sun so that the morning dew dries off quickly. I did that (not knowingly though). Growing fruit trees is still something I’m learning about. So then, he tells me that apple trees benefit from a little calcium since that’s what gives an apple its crunch! And who’s got five little natural calcium producers in her backyard coop? This girl! The egg shells! How I’ve been wasting this precious resource!
Ok, so they’ve been going into my compost, which eventually gets to my plants so it hasn’t been a total waste, but man, what potential they have! Did you know that besides putting them around your apple trees, they help out your tomatoes too?! Yep! The calcium boost helps prevent blossom end rot! Who knew?! Also, did you know that adding crushed egg shells is like adding lime to your soil, boosting the pH? I know! Oh, and you know, of course, about egg shells and their slug-deterring properties, right? Score!
I always remember my mom putting them around house plants too. It just took this one conversation, years later, to push me into action. That’s how things work sometimes. So here’s the deal. Stash a container near your compost bucket at the sink, designated especially for egg shells. Try and find a container with added ventilation, like a plastic berry basket. I knew I was holding on to that sucker for a reason!
Next, make sure to wash out the egg shells before you put them in your stash. We don’t want to create a fruit fly bonanza, right? Right. I’ve been collecting shells for a week and there was nary a fruit fly in sight!
Once you have a good pile, crush them to make them more accessible to your plants. I gave ‘em a few pulses in the food processor, but alternatively, you could put them in a reusable bag and give them a smash, uh, I mean, gentle roll with a rolling pin. That way you’re not using added energy to create this supplement…except yours, of course.
Maybe that means that you should come over so we can learn from each other too?