Last summer a close friend of mine saved a TON of eggshells to start her seedlings in. She had a pretty cool setup going on and her seedlings thrived. She ended up with more tomato plants than she knew what to do with and passed some along to me. We were still in a townhouse at that time, so I could only take a few and placed them in pots. Wow, did those grow an amazing amount of tomatoes! Seriously - I vowed once I had a yard, I would do the same.
So here we are...
First, I think it's important that I state right now - I have never grown a full sized garden on my own. Nope, never.
This year will be my first. When we were in the townhouse, Chris built a raised bed that was 1' x 10' behind the retaining wall near the back of our "yard" that I used to grow herbs, lettuce and radishes in. This worked a little bit, but it was kind of ridiculous. I had to climb up a small ladder to reach even the dirt (I might have fallen off said ladder a time or two...don't worry, it was a short one) so weeding was a major pain and the wooded lot behind us would get so overgrown, that unless we went back there with a chainsaw (remember - this wasn't technically ours - but we did do this once - shhhh!) the plants would not get enough sunlight. I still tried though - when there's a will, there's a way, right??
I'm always up for trying. I figure I don't have much to lose. We want to grow a massive amount of fruits and vegetables, enough so we can pass along or donate what our family doesn't need. I also want to do that as inexpensively as possible. This pretty much requires I start everything from seeds.
After researching this method, I've decided it's most definitely worth a try.
Even better - you can plant the whole thing - eggshell and all, right into the ground!
The first thing we did was save every eggshell we could, rinsed them out and left them to dry on the counter.
I poked drainage holes in the bottom of each eggshell to prevent over watering. Looking back, it might have been better to use a darning needle, or at least something thinner than my digital thermometer. I broke a couple doing this.
Using organic seed starter soil, I filled each egg with a large spoon.
Different seeds need to be planted at varying depths, so for the more shallow seeds (usually the small seeds), I used my smaller shells and for the deeper ones, the larger shells. I also made sure to label and date each section. Plus I can really only focus on cold weather crops at this point. I plan on doing succession planting, so I need to know the dates.. That's not something my brain can handle on it's own. I can hardly remember what I did an hour ago.
Based off of the planting depth, I used an unsharpened pencil to make mini holes to place the seeds.
We set up an extra pantry rack we had in the garage next to our kitchen window. This way they will get plenty of sunlight. It also keeps them off of the kitchen table. I haven't even hit the tip of the iceberg yet as far as planting is concerned. We need to eat more eggs and get more shells going. I also picked up this cool little gadget that will make square blocks to start seeds in without needing a pot of any kind. I want to use that for the larger plants, but those won't go in until next month.
I'm not sure which container will work better - the plastic because the soil can later absorb excess water from the bottom, or the cardboard because it will absorb the excess water. I have been misting them with a spray bottle, so they are not getting saturated. I'll have to post an update once things start growing.
So far it seems to be working. I did come home to an egg casualty tonight and a pile of dirt on my kitchen floor. Courtesy of Jackson the cat. Darn cat.