I finally tried the old start seeds in eggshells trick and it worked a charm. Reassuring too, since I encouraged you to do this very thing earlier this month.
Hope and ruin in the kitchen garden
What I lack in skill, I make up for in enthusiasm. The seeds I plant don’t always sprout, the seeds I sprout don’t always flourish, and other times I’ve gotten everything right only to have rats eat my carrots while they were still in ground.
Perpetual optimism and dreams of homegrown herbs and veg propel me to keep trying. There remains some magic in that first glimpse of a seedling pushing through the soil wearing its jaunty seed shell beret.
And so I am always looking for ways to improve the ecological odds.
How to start seeds in eggshells
I’d found this simple seed starting idea somewhere on the internet and decided to give it a go. It uses two waste materials from the kitchen: eggs and the egg cartons. This means you don’t need to buy special containers or use plastic – making it frugal, permaculture friendly and Zero Waste.
Step 1: Save your eggshells
They don’t need to be a perfect half shape, and it’s not an issue if there is additional cracking. In fact, with those that didn’t have any cracking across the dome, I made a small hole in the bottom to let excess water drain out. Seeds like to be uniformly moist, not necessarily sopping wet.
Step 2: Fill each eggshell with seed starting mix
Fill the half eggshells with a good nutritious soil mix and put them back into the carton. Moisten the soil.
Step 3: Plant the seeds at their recommended depth
The larger the seed, the deeper it’s meant to be planted, but half an eggshell is plenty deep for most anything, including the black zucchini you see here. For more specific info, look for instructions on the back of the seed packet, or it’ll be google-able if you’re using seeds you collected (go you!).
Since seeds don’t usually need the sun until they sprout up, you can even close the lid of the carton until they’ve germinated. Useful if you want to keep them cozy while starting them indoors in early spring (when Australian homes remain stubbornly chilly).
Step 4: Plant out your seedlings
When my seedlings emerged, I planted them out into a larger container, still in their eggshells. I made sure to crack each shell a bit more to allow the roots to grow through, but I figure the extra moisture retention from the egg ‘cup’ will be a boon to these little sprouts through the hot weather. See also: enthusiasm> skill.
I marked the pot with an upcycled bamboo fork noting the date they went in and composted the egg carton.
So far, the eggshell method has been successful for starting cucamelon, radishes, eggplant and this black zucchini.
And now the waiting begins to find out if these little seedlings will bear fruit.
Anyone else tried this Zero Waste seed starting method?