Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our garden –Year 2 : Eggshells, the wonder trash

A little snippet for all of you this morning in my garden series.

Last year in our garden was a year of learning. It was the first year that we had a plot at the local community garden and unfortunately, it did not yield much. I would like to blame the horrible weather we had that year (we got almost 493 millimeters – over 19 inches – of rain last summer) but I know that a lot of it was our lack of experience and knowledge.

But like all good students of a new art form, we observed a lot of the more experience gardeners around us and one thing we quickly noted was all of them walking around, early in the season, with buckets full of crushed eggshells that they would sprinkle around all their plants.

Turns out, like bone meal, egg shells are a great calcium source for your soil. Calcium deficiency is one of the most common problems in gardens. What it does is to make the roots weak and then, you end up with a root system that is unable to sustain a healthy plant. According to Calcium Deficiency in Organic Vegetable Gardens - Natural Garden Solutions for Your Green Lifestyle, a wonderful article by Deborah Aldridge :

Calcium deficiency symptoms in organic vegetable garden plants is very noticeable, but may be misdiagnosed, as some symptoms, such as browning of young leaf margins and leaf curling, can also be associated with other deficiencies and diseases. However, if these early symptoms are not treated, it can lead to the death of the terminal bud and root tips.

A very common and easily recognizable symptom of calcium deficiency is blossom end rot, which usually shows itself on peppers and tomatoes. Blossom end rot begins with a decayed brown spot on the blossom end of the fruit. Sometimes, not all the fruit is affected. Feeding with a fertilizer too high in nitrogen can also cause blossom end rot.

You are probably thinking they are already pretty amazing little scraps. But that is not all!

Fun fact : Did you know that if you sprinkle broken eggshells around your more delicate plants, they will keep away slugs and snails?

So as you are making your Sunday eggs this morning, think of rinsing the shells and setting them to dry. You will reduce waste and grow happier, healthier vegetables this summer.

What natural, organic ways have you found to keep your garden and flower beds happy and healthy?