Every experienced gardener knows that making homemade compost adds beneficial nutrients and bacteria to your soil, which in turn will feed your plants, improve soil quality and ensure that your precious perennials and shrubs continue to grow healthily year after year.
Composting is also a much more environmentally friendly way of disposing of certain waste products from around your home and plays a huge role in helping to reduce your carbon footprint. Not to mention, there is a certain satisfaction that comes from producing your very own black gold.
There are loads of things that can be added to your compost heap. However, one food waste product that seems to spark confusion and hesitation about whether or not it is compostable is eggshells.
So, let’s get to the bottom of it. Are eggshells compostable? The answer is yes!
Not only do eggshells make a great addition to your compost, but they also add certain nutrients to it that are harder to find in other compostable food waste products.
Below, we’ve put together everything you need to know about adding eggshells to your compost along with some useful tips on how to make sure they fully break down and put their goodness back into your garden.
The benefits of adding eggshells to your compost
Eggshells will add several nutrients to your compost, including magnesium and potassium. These two minerals are essential for plant health and are key to preventing leaves from curling up and drying out.
Magnesium deficiency is also notorious in acidic soils, so by working compost that has had eggshells added as part of its formation into the earth you’ll have a much better chance of providing magnesium for acid-loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
As well and magnesium and potassium, one of the most beneficial nutrients eggshells can also add to your compost is calcium. This helps to adjust the structure of soil and can work wonders in improving the overall health and consistency of the soil in your garden.
For example, if you have heavy clay soil that retains lots of moisture, is difficult to work with, and fails to keep certain plants alive, adding a calcium-rich compost to it will completely transform it over time.
Calcium isn’t just good for soil structure, though. As with all living things, your plants need a good level of calcium in their diet to keep their cells healthy and functioning. Calcium deficient plants tend to suffer from restricted root growth, can cause growing tips to die back, and can even cause leaf cells to disintegrate.
So, by adding eggshells to your compost you’ll be able to provide your plants with specific nutrients that aren’t easily found in fruits, vegetables, and other compostable materials. You’ll also be able to change the structure of your soil and transform it into healthy, rich earth that a wider variety of plants will thrive in.
How to add eggshells to your compost
As with all compostable materials, adding eggshells into the mix isn’t as easy as simply throwing them onto the pile as they are. They require a little breaking down in order to help the bacteria and microorganisms turn them into usable compost.
Reducing them into smaller pieces will also help speed up the composting process, which means you’ll get to add them to your soil sooner!
The best way to do this is to grind your eggshells down into a power. This can easily be done using a pestle and mortar, and you can even place them into a coffee or spice grinder to get them to the right consistency.
It’s worth noting, also, that you can actually add ground down eggshell powder directly into an existing, store-bought compost mix that you might be using for planting containers or transplanting seedlings.
If the powder-grinding method isn’t for you, then you can simply crush the eggshells into smaller pieces using your hands before adding them to your compost heap and letting nature do the rest of the work.
Whichever method you choose, you must always make sure that it is just the eggshells you’re putting into your compost. Never add whole eggs to the pile as these will rot, cause an absolutely horrendous odor, and can even attract pests and vermin to your compost heap.
How long do they take to break down?
The rate at which your eggshells will break down will depend on how well you’ve broken them up before putting them onto your compost heap. A fine powder will be much easier for the microorganisms living in your compost to digest and turn into the nutrient-rich soil additive you’re looking for.
Eggshells that have been broken down into smaller fragments will take a little longer to decompose fully before they can be used around the garden.
Other ways you can use them in your garden
Eggshells aren’t just beneficial to your compost. There are a variety of different ways you can use them around your garden, all the while reducing your food waste and doing your bit for the environment.
Slugs and snails will find it difficult to cross a path of jagged, broken eggshells, so why not try scattering some around the soil in your pots and containers. This is a particularly useful tip if you grow hostas or dahlias which are irresistible to these slimy pests.
Broken up eggshells can also be used as a mulch around your plants during autumn and winter and will help to protect the root systems of perennial plants from frost damage. They are also a great source of calcium for your houseplants and can be sprinkled directly onto the soil and watered in to give them a good, natural feed.
There you have it! Eggshells are indeed compostable, and will even add nutrients to your garden that you might struggle to find it other compostable materials. They can also be used to deter pests and protect your plants over winter. So, next time you’re baking a delicious cake or making an omelet for breakfast, be sure to keep the eggshells, add them to your compost, and let them work wonders all around your garden.