Eggshells as compost and fertilizer for plants


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Eggshells are a suitable fertilizer for limescale plants

Eggshells are one of the uncooked kitchen remnants and therefore belong to the compost !? Unfortunately, the situation is not that simple. The fact is that 90% of the shell is made of calcium carbonate - known as carbonate of lime. In the hobby garden there is a wide range of applications for lime, for example on compost or as fertilizer for plants. The problem is that lime does not readily dissolve in this form. Are bowls of chicken eggs helpful or even harmful? The following pros and cons are for decision making.
So argue the proponents
The comprehensive positive effects of compost on plant growth and soil quality have long since been internalized by nature-loving hobby gardeners. Even in the smallest garden there is today a compost heap that is conscientiously fed with plant waste and uncooked kitchen leftovers. For decades egg shells have migrated to the compost without long spring readiness, for the following reasons:
  • Bowls of eggs contain valuable lime, as an indispensable component of organic fertilizer
  • no more than 0.5 millimeters thick, they promote the circulation of oxygen in the compost pile in shredded form
  • Calcium carbonate as the main component neutralizes the acidifying effect of other additives, such as ground coffee
  • The carbon contained prevented excessive nitrogen formation and thus ensures a stable humus development
Concerning the concerns about germs on egg shells, the advocates of composting point to the rotting process. A fresh compost heap starts with a hot phase, reaching temperatures of 60° C and more. At this stage, the organic material is degraded, the germs of disease does not survive this sanitation. Above a temperature of 70° C bacteria are destroyed. The oncoming microorganisms ultimately find a biologically 'purified' material. Tip: In a thermo-composter, the high temperatures are permanently maintained during the summer, which intensifies the hygienizing effect. The process of composting is significantly accelerated.
The contra arguments
Within the large community of dedicated hobby gardeners, a fraction advocating egg shells is increasingly establishing itself as organic waste

Against eggshells as a fertilizer speak some arguments

feed and not the compost. Your proof in detail:
  • the shells of chicken eggs are not organic matter, but rather a mineral composition
  • Soil organisms avoid the crystalline solid instead of nibbling it at least
  • instead eggshells are subject to similar weathering processes as limestone
  • as crushed splinters they only disappear visually from the field of vision due to the brown discoloration
  • Trays of poultry eggs are infected with Salmonella, which survive a hot rotting
  • The bacteria are distributed with the compost in the garden and get into the food
  • Flies pick up the salmonella from the organic material and transport it to the kitchen
With regard to the hygienizing effect in the thermo-composter, the opponents of egg shells substantiate their conviction as compost: What is the point of having stable components that do not decompose anyway? Sooner or later, they will be sifted out and land in the bio bin.
Rapid dissolution only in vinegar and hydrochloric acid
Calcium carbonate is so sturdily constructed that it only dissolves quickly when vinegar or hydrochloric acid comes into play. So a popular experiment in schools looks at how to shell a raw egg. For this purpose, a commercial, uncooked poultry egg comes in a glass with vinegar essence. Within a short time, bubbling occurs and foam develops on the surface of the liquid. Overnight, the egg shell dissolves completely, while the egg itself remains intact and has turned into a 'rubber egg'.
As a fertilizer for plants on the decline
The issue of egg shells as compost flows seamlessly into the question of their principal function as fertilizer for plants. Even our grandparents and great-grandparents mixed the bowls into the irrigation water or worked them into the beetle; firmly convinced that their plants thus received an extra portion of lime. However, evidence was lacking from our ancestors. When modern methods were used, the problem of the low solubility of calcium carbonate emerged. Since in the meantime, the general lime content of tap water significantly increased, most garden plants get a sufficient amount of it - whether egg shells are fed or not.

Calcium fertilizer can also be supplied to plants in other forms

Alternatives to egg shells as fertilizer

In view of the slow solubility of the calcareous component, effective alternatives for the fertilization of limescale plants are used.As experience has shown, the garden floors in German hobby gardens are usually well supplied with lime. If a pH soil test shows that the value drops too strongly in the direction of acid, countermeasures are required. This is especially true for the cultivation of plants that prefer a neutral to alkaline soil. These include forsythia, gladioli, daffodils, peonies and tulips in the ornamental garden and carrots, parsley, Swiss chard and some cabbage varieties in the garden. This is how to proceed with the liming:
  • For light to medium soils, classic garden lime is suitable
  • Garden lime ideally in the fall or winter spend
  • on light sandy soil, the application of limestone marl with 30 percent clay is advisable
  • Lime marl is spread in the fall, due to its slow action
  • If an additional nutrient supply with magnesium, manganese or boron is desired, algae lime is an option
  • Algae lime is administered throughout the growing season
A special position takes rock flour. It contains abundant carbonate of lime, as well as magnesium or potassium. The nutrients must, however, take a detour via the microorganisms so that they are available to the plant. But then the positive effects - depending on the source rock - can hardly be beat. For example, earthworms and other soil organisms are activated, which promotes the formation of humus. Tip: If you repeatedly place rock flour on the compost heap, you will not be able to immediately cover the bedrock under normal conditions.
Non-calcareous plants
Fertilization with lime or eggshells is not always indicated. Various ornamental and crop plants thrive optimally only when cultivated in low-lime to acidic soil. The best known representatives are:
  • rhododendron
  • hydrangeas
  • petunias
  • azaleas
  • orchids

The calcium content in the irrigation water is often so high that egg shells are superfluous as an addition

Different varieties of these genera are so sensitive to lime that they are preferable to pour with collected rainwater because tap water is too hard.
Conclusion of the editorship
The question of the meaning of egg shells as compost and fertilizer for plants continues to be discussed controversially. Both sides throw convincing and less conclusive arguments into the balance. There is certainty as to the slow solubility of calcium carbonate in the skins of chicken eggs, so that their addition to irrigation water as a fertilizer is superfluous. All other pros and cons arguments lack either a scientifically based basis or it simply lacks empirical values. Thus, the response to using the poultry eggs shells in the allotment is more likely to be individualized.
Worth knowing about egg shells as fertilizer
In most cases, our grandparents used raw egg shells for fertilization. Either they put the bowls in the irrigation water or they crushed them and then mixed them under the ground. This trick is still often recommended today. The egg shells contain calcium carbonate.
  • Basically, there is hardly anything left in this day and age to provide additional lime in the soil in this way.
  • In many areas of our country, the tap water is already quite calcareous. So all plants get already enough lime fed.
  • An additional lime supply need the least plant.
  • On the contrary, for many of them, too much lime or lime is harmful at all.
  • If you have a lime-free soil and also very soft water, you can use egg shells to bring in lime.
  • However, the egg shells accumulating in a normal four-person household usually suffice only for small areas or for flowerpots.
  • It takes a lot of egg shells to fertilize an entire garden. In addition, it still remains a one-sided fertilizer.
  • In addition, it takes some time for the skins to begin to decompose. The effect does not start so fast.
Which plants do not like lime?
  • Rhododendrons, azaleas, heathers, irises and all bog plants.
  • Also blueberries, cranberries, pear berries (Gaultheria).
  • King Fern, Gorse, Juniper (Juniperus communis).
  • Bird cherries (Prunus padus), Mountain ash and pines.
  • Likewise peaches, wine, magnolias, sweet chestnuts.
Which plants love lime?
  • Christmas roses, early spring cyclamen, daphne.
  • Winterlings, cowbells, liverworts, lilac.
  • Pipe shrub, chives, lavender, free-range hibiscus.
  • Delphinium, carnations, geraniums, bluebells and many more.
  • Especially beans and peas are happy about some extra lime in the soil.
Pros and cons
Whether to give eggshells on the compost, there are different opinions, depending on the latest scientific findings. In general, it is no longer recommended as flies can transfer the salmonella from compost to open food in the kitchen. If you give egg shells to the compost, they have plenty of time to slowly decompose and release their nutrients. The shells should be well shredded beforehand. The smaller the pieces, the better.In addition, the shells should not top, open lying on the compost pile, but covered (flying).

Video Board: 2 Min. Tip: How We Use Eggshells in Our Garden (Eggshell Calcium).

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