How and Why to Prepare Eggshell Seed Pots
By Sarah Mooney
As the growing season approaches, I prepare to start some plants from seed. There are many different vessels to start your seeds in, and eggshells are one of them. Generally I obliterate my eggshells when I am making eggs or baking, so collecting these fragile seed pots has been particularly challenging for me. However, once you have gotten a clean break in your shell you have made it through (in my opinion) the most difficult part of the prepping process.
Tips on how to keep an eggshell (mostly) intact and prepare them for seeds
After some trial and error, and some internet research, I have found that the simplest way to get your eggshell seed pot is to begin by puncturing the top of the egg. When I say the top, I mean the part of the shell that is narrower. You do not need any fancy tools for this, a steak knife will do.
Once you poke your hole, you can use your hands to break off the top fourth of the egg. Using your hands grants you control and will increase your chances of preserving the rest of the egg. Do not get discouraged if you do not get it right the first few times - it can take practice to develop a touch delicate enough for an eggshell.
I make collecting shells a casual process, doing so only when I am baking or cooking. However, there is nothing wrong with making a project out of it and having a go at the whole carton. Once you have a hole in the top of your shell, the next step is to empty out the egg into your cake batter or wherever you have chosen for your egg to go. Turning the sink water on to low pressure, I run my thumbs gently around the inside of the shell to separate the membrane, which I discard in my compost bin once removed. I have found that the water helps with the membrane removal.
In order to make sure you do not drown your baby plants, you should poke a small hole in the base of your shell. I was pleasantly surprised at the great results I got from simply using a nail and the pressure of my hand. There are special tools you can use, but that certainly is not necessary for this step. Bringing the nail to the inside of my egg, I applied a small amount of pressure until the tip came out the other side. My first try was successful, but again, it is okay to have a little trial and error as a part of the process.
Now you have a clean eggshell seed pot! Hang on to the carton, because it serves as a great shell holder and a perfect way to stabilize your shell once you have started your seeds.
What are the benefits of using an eggshell to start seeds?
Eggshells are likely something you throw into the garbage or compost. Using them as seed pots is another way to recycle!
You can place the eggshell directly into the ground with your baby plant when the time comes. The shell adds nutrients to the soil, which will enhance the quality of your garden.
If you choose to remove your plant from the shell before placing it in the ground, you can break the eggshell off rather than trying to pull your plant from the shell. (Depending on the container you use to start your seed, this task varies in ease.)
Eggshells have calcium, so they are an especially great starter vessel for tomato plants, which need high levels of calcium for proper fruit formation.
Eggshells are just one of many containers you can start your seeds in, and they are definitely one of the most ecofriendly choices. Creating your shell pot is free of cost and accessible to anyone who includes eggs in their meal plan, making it the perfect option for the economically and environmentally minded individual.
Sarah is new to gardening and eager to share her discoveries in hopes of clarifying the process for fellow beginners. Her other hobbies include making art, baking and exercising when she isn't busy studying for her Master's Degree in Social Work.