Egg Shells & Your Garden

There’s a lot of debate on the web about the purpose of adding eggshells to your garden. This debate isn’t about the benefits of eggshells added as a part of compost but rather a debate on if they actually deter slugs and other leaf-eating insects from eating your precious plants. Some gardeners swear by the egg shell method to ward off pesky insects while others who have taken a scientific approach have proven this method to be anything other than helpful.

The debate

One interesting site, AllAboutSlugs.com decided to do a controlled experiment with two pieces of lettuce and some slugs. In their experiment, the slugs seemed to prefer the lettuce that was surrounded completely with eggshells, leaving the other, unprotected piece of lettuce alone. Other sites such as, GreenIdeaReviews.com are in the middle with their recommendation, while they believe that a barrier of egg shells can keep some snails and slugs away, it may not be a complete all-in-one deterring method for every species. Then there are gardeners like me who believe this method totally works…at least in my garden.

Egg Shells for Slugs

In my experience, the egg shells work! I’ve been using them around two grape vines that I have growing in my backyard. At first, the plants were at separate parts of my backyard before I decided to move the smaller one next to the bigger one because it wasn’t doing so good where it was at. As you can see in the pictures below, the bigger plant was getting all the action as it had a better spot to grow but it was also getting eaten by slugs and snails.

bottom leaves of bigger grape vine
bottom leaves of bigger grape vine

When you look at the top leaves, you can see that there are no more holes. I contribute this change in my plant’s destruction to the barrier of egg shells I keep around it.

top leaves of same grape vine plant
top leaves of same grape vine plant

When I first got these two grape vines, they were planted in two different areas and this one started getting eaten right away. At the time I did not have an egg shell barrier. It wasn’t until I moved the other grape vine closer to the bigger one, that I started using the egg shell barrier. Now you may be thinking, “but why would a slug or a snail climb so high just to get to a fresh leaf if there are already plenty of them at the bottom?” I don’t know the answer to that but if you take a look at the smaller vine that was planted next to the bigger one when I added the egg shell barrier, you will not find all those holes everywhere.

smaller grape vine
smaller grape vine

My Method

I don’t think it matters if you use organic or non-organic egg shells because I don’t think pests discriminate but I do use organic egg shells in my garden because we eat organic eggs. After I make eggs, I rinse the shell and let them dry. When they are dry, I put them in a bowl I have set aside to collect to shells. Every so often throughout the week I crush the shells into small chips. You don’t want to create a powder, just nicely crushed pieces that aren’t too big. Then, when you think you have enough, create a circular barrier around the plant(s) you want to protect. I add new shells every week or two in areas where the shells may have gotten scattered from watering or if a bird may have picked them up at (yes I do see birds pecking at my shells sometimes).

eggshell barrier around my grape vines
eggshell barrier around my grape vines

I would have to say that I am a believer in the egg shell barrier. Maybe it only works for the specific species I have around my garden, or maybe it just works…period! Not sure the exact reason why but I do know that it works for me and if you have a garden you want to protect, just try it!

 

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