Spring is coming. It isn’t here quite here in Chicago yet, but it’s definitely on its way, and I cannot wait to get my garden in the ground. This year, we’re in our house during the spring and not just mid-summer, and I have high hopes for my own chard and tomatoes and more.
Needless to say, I’m growing my veggies from seed, which means I need to transplant them if I want to have any veggies before Labor Day. There is still far too much risk for frost here, so I start my seeds inside then move them once they’re hardy enough to live outside full time and the weather has truly turned to spring.
Gardening always takes a little thinking ahead, and I’ve been planning my garden for awhile now. Every time I used an egg over the past month and a half, I didn’t toss the shell when I finished. Instead, I washed it out well and saved it. Why? Eggshell seedling pots are the perfect seed starters. They are rich in nutrients that leach from the shell over time, plus seedlings are more likely to survive the transfer process because you don’t have to remove them from the starter pot. And you create less garbage, so it’s a win all around.
How to Make Eggshell Seedling Pots
To use eggshell seedling pots, simply save your shells and wash them out. Let them dry and keep the egg carton, as well, as that will be a great way to keep your shells upright and hold in some heat from the sun, which is also a help to your seeds.
When you’re ready to plant, carefully fill your eggshells with potting soil. I use a kitchen spoon, and it’s the perfect size to scoop dirt into the shells. Once they have dirt in them and are a little more stable, use a pin to prick four or five holes in the bottoms of the shells so that water is able to drain from your eggshell seedling pots.
Return them to your egg carton and fill your remaining eggshells.
Once all your shells are filled, I use a marker on my egg carton to label what I have in each row of eggshell seedling pots so that I don’t forget when the seedlings are still small and not as easily identifiable as they will be later.
Now it’s time to add your seeds. I typically add two seeds per eggshell seedling pot to hopefully ensure that I have a seedling start but not have to thin too much, as I always feel guilty when I remove a healthy seedling because my pot is too crowded.
Because I can never remember which pots I’ve added seeds to and which still need seeds, I keep the seeds sitting atop the soil in the eggshell seedling pots until each one has been filled. That way I don’t put too many seeds in one pot or miss one accidentally.
Finally, it’s time to push them to the appropriate depth per type of seed and carefully cover it with soil before moistening the soil and hoping my seeds germinate.
I keep them in the sun and give them a misting of water daily, just as I would with any other seeds I’m starting to give them the best possible conditions for growth. As my seedlings pop up, I’ll remove the smaller of the two seedlings where I have more than one growing so that only the strongest stays in the eggshell seedling pots I planted.
When it’s time for transfer, this is the easiest job ever. I simply prepare the hole where I wish to transplant my seedlings from the eggshell seedling pots and then gently crush the eggshell, not breaking it apart but ensuring that it will easily come apart as the seedling grows and pushes against its original container. Then the seedlings – eggshell seedling pots and all – go into the holes I created and we’re good to go.
This year, I planted tomatoes, chard, peppers, eggplant, and squash, all organic seeds from the High Mowing Company, and I’ll be sure to keep you updated on what’s sprouting. Yum!