Friday, July 1, 2011

Eggshell Seedlings

Our empty eggshells
Adding the soil ... with a kitchen spoon

If you compost, you know that eggshells are great additions to your compost pile! Some gardeners even directly crush eggshells into their garden beds, partly for nutrients and partly to deter certain critters from eating their plants. Starting seedlings in eggshells is the perfect way to combine a crafty project (painting eggshells) with a practical project (starting seeds for your garden).

Here in North Carolina, we are lucky to be able to plant almost all year round so it can always be a fine time to start seedlings. And, even if it isn't a great time to start veggie seedlings, you can always plant flowers!

Painting! Of course ...
You will need: 

Empty eggshells - rinsed out and dried
Non-toxic paint (if you want to... we paint everything)


1. Prepare the eggshells ... We get free-range Amish eggs by the flat every week or so - we eat a lot of eggs around here - so it doesn't take long at all to accumulate a small bunch of empty eggshells waiting to be planted. I rinse out the eggs with hot water and let them air dry overnight. On the second day, I let the kids paint them - inside and out.

Let the seeds germinate
2. Prepare the seeds ... For this project, I used some okra seeds that my friend had generously given me from her mother-in-law's garden. Just to extend the project a little, we placed the seeds into a small glass and covered them with water so we could watch them germinate overnight. The kids loved seeing them sprout in just a little bit of water. You don't really need to do this step but it is fun to watch!

3. After the eggs are dried, we filled them with soil using a spoon. Yes, a spoon right from the silverware drawer. We're not picky over here. Place your seeds into the soil-filled egg. A good rule of thumb is that you should plant the seed twice as deep as it is wide.

4. Once you have planted your seeds, you have two options depending on the time of year. If the weather is not quite ready for starting seeds outdoors, this is the perfect way to create your own little starter plants. Keep your eggshell seedlings in a sunny window and keep the soil damp. After the seedlings have started to grow, you can transfer them directly to your garden - right in their little shell! Or, if the weather is hot and sunny with no cold weather risk, you can plant them immediately into your garden as my children did! No waiting around...

Have fun!

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