Between the popularity of quarantine baking and easy-to-make egg dishes, we may have more eggshells that usual sitting around. Not everyone has the time and energy to dedicate to washing out and saving eggshells, but if you fall into that category, we have a new (literal) tiny hack for you. We’ve already covered several eggshell-based hacks, like using them to keep slugs out of your garden or to whiten your laundry ” but this one is cuter because it involves growing baby plants.
How to grow seedlings in eggshells
If you’ve always wanted to have your own garden, but wasn’t sure where to start, this method might be the answer. Over at the Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs website, they have a whole handy guide to growing seedlings in eggshells, even if you’ve never done it before. Here’s what to do:
Gather your supplies
Really, you only need four things:
- A handful of eggshells, cleaned and halved
- Egg carton
- Pre-moistened seed starting mix
- Seeds for herbs or small flowers
But how do you get a handful of eggshells, cleaned and halved? Pete and Gerry’s suggests cracking open your eggs, then cutting them in half (it doesn’t have to be perfect) and washing them ” keeping all the raw eggs in a container that you can later use for cooking or baking. Another option is just using the eggs as you normally would, but taking the time and care to halve them as you use them, then washing them and saving them until you have enough to start the planting project. Either way, you’ll end up with the shells you need. And you can either use the carton the eggs came in, or another one you held onto.
Plant seeds in the eggshells
Start by placing an empty shell in each slot of the egg carton. Then, start planting. Per their instructions:
Using a teaspoon, fill each empty eggshell with the seed starting mix up to the top, leaving a few millimetres of space between the soil and the edge of the shell. After adding the soil, use your finger to create a small hole in the dirt to make room for the seeds. Drop two seeds into each hole and gently cover them with a sprinkling of dirt.
Tend to your seedlings
Now that your seeds are in the soil, it’s your job to care for them. Make sure you’re keeping your carton on a windowsill, or somewhere else that gets a lot of light and ideally, is warmer than the rest of your home.
And like any seedling, water is really important ” though you don’t want to go overboard. The idea is to keep the soil moist, while not overwatering (remember: the eggshells don’t have little drainage holes). The best way to water these baby plants is using a spray bottle, gently misting them every two to three days.
Trim the runts
Because you planted two seeds in each eggshell, there’s a good chance that two seedlings will end up growing. If that’s the case, you can snip the smaller of the two sprouts to help the other one grow.
How to transplant the seedlings
Eventually, your seedlings will get to the point of being too big for their eggshells ” usually when they get to be a few inches tall, or have grown their second pair of leaves. When this happens, you’ll be ready to move the plants to their new home.
If you opt to move your seedlings to an outdoor garden, you’re going to need to do an extra step to prepare them for this. It’s called “hardening off,” and means “rubbing your hand gently across the plants to simulate a breeze and gradually leaving them outside for longer periods of time to help them acclimate to the weather outdoors.” This will take a little more planning on your part, but that’s a small price to pay for a beautiful outdoor garden of your very own.
Clay pots/indoor gardens
If you’d rather move your seedling to a clay pot or some type of indoor garden, you can skip the “hardening off” process. And in case you didn’t realise it, you’re going to be putting the whole eggshell into the pot. The shells will naturally decompose and act as a type of fertiliser, giving your seedlings nutrients. As far as specific transfer process, I’ll hand it back over to Pete and Gerry:
When transplanting your seedlings, the first step is filling an adequately large pot or garden bed with the same soil you used for the eggshells. Next, take the eggshell with the plant still inside and very, very gently crush the outside of the egg, enough so some shards of the outer layer of the shell chip off. Next, plant the eggshell inside of the new pot or garden, making sure the top of the shell is completely buried.
If you opted to plant herbs, your plants should grow big enough to be cut and used for cooking within a few weeks. Otherwise, enjoy watching your flowers grow.
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