Starting seeds in eggs with a Secret!
Starting Seeds in Eggs with a SECRET!
I truly thought that I had an original idea. It was mine! It came to me first.
As with many things I’ve thought . . . hmmmm, not.
Everyone . . . from Martha Stewart to Instructables or YouTube can tell you how to do this. But, I’m the one who tells you with love and gives you a little secret.
We have a cute little compost pot on our kitchen counter that one of our daughters gave me for Christmas last year.
We drop egg shells, coffee grounds, peelings, and veggie scraps in it. When full, one of us—most often my guy—will take it outside to the larger compost bin. The scraps sit out there 3-4 months decomposing before getting scooped into the garden.
I looked at those egg shells one day and thought, “If you’re going to become compost anyway, why not skip a step and use you from the beginning to start seedlings?”
I started saving egg shells in an empty egg carton.
We go through about a half dozen eggs a week for breakfast. Take a raw egg and tap around the shell with the pointy end of a knife about 1/2 inch from the pointy end of the egg. Take the chipped top off, pour out the egg for cooking. Rinse out the egg shell, put the chipped off part back inside, set it aside to dry until you have a dozen or so.
Some of my shells cracked very evenly where I wanted, while others cracked further down so I almost had two halves. You could use them either way, just make sure you have a large enough shell to hold soil for your seedlings to have good root growth.
Fill each egg shell with fine grain potting soil up to the top or almost to the top. I went for the top. A full egg.
Make a little shallow hole in the center of soil and drop in a seed. Lightly cover it up. Some of my seeds were so tiny, several fell into the hole. As they grow, I’ll have to divide them to not be crowded.
Before I planted a seed in a shell, I wrote what it was on the outside of the egg shell with a Sharpie. Unless you have a way better memory than me, don’t plant several before labeling them. After the seeds are planted, they’ll all look alike.
I put them back in the egg crate and sprinkled water lightly on each–about 2 tablespoons of water per egg. I used the yellow mister you see below to water them, so the seeds weren’t disturbed.
The Italian Basil on the right has been watered, while the one on the left has not. The egg crate is clear plastic. I set them in a warm spot and flipped the lid over the top. Their own little green house.
And that is a secret! It’s more important they be kept warm than sunny. Yes, they’ll need sun, but not just yet. Think about it. They’re in the dirt. It’s dark down there. But, if it’s warm, they’ll start fluffing their shells and grow. If it too cool, they’ll hunker down and wait for spring.
What will happen when these seeds sprout and need to planted in the garden is this:
You wait! —until after the last frost— Important! Those tender little seedlings are like a new born baby naked in the winter. They need to be warm.
And by sprouted, these new babies need more than the first two leaves. It’s common sense when you think about it. This is when they need the sun.
Plants get their nutrients from their roots and leaves. Those first two leaves aren’t enough. Wait for a second set to appear. But, you can and should fertilize them when those first two leaves appear with a mild, half-diluted liquid fertilizer to help them along.
The egg shell with the seedling can be planted directly into the garden. Crack the bottom of the egg shell so the roots won’t be trapped inside until the shell decomposes, but you don’t need to remove it. Just tap it to break the shell.
As I am a highly trained, multi-use-tool, don’t-have-the-right-tool-handy DIY-expert because I’m cheap and some of it’s fun, I use specially designed egg shell planter tools: a steak knife from the kitchen to crack the shell and—if you’ll check that second pic—a soup spoon for a trowel.
I had the thought, “How do these compare to seeds started in soil?”
My guy put some planters on our porch last year for lettuces, kale, and chives. They grew great. He also planted Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Not so much. So some of the planters have space for me to sew seeds.
(Secret: Just between us, they’re a little tacky. Black plastic planters that sit on top of the deck railing. Click here and look for it behind our chiminea. He secured them well with screws, so they’re sturdy. Aesthetically? They may be a tiny bit challenged. Still, he’s spot on with convenience. It’s nice stepping outside a few feet and clipping fresh lettuces for salads or my most very favorite sandwich in the summer– BLT!)
I’d purchased enough seed packets to plant a quarter acre. Needless to say, there were seeds left over.
I planted more of these same herb seeds in my guy’s planters the same day as the egg shells. And in anticipation of my BLTs, planted some lettuce seeds. Just like the egg shell planters, it’s easy to forget what you planted. I used Popsicle sticks as markers. Then, we went out of town and I didn’t check them for four days.
There’s another little experiment I’m trying. See the markers above labeled “Cilantro” and “Coriander?” The spice coriander is the seed for the herb cilantro. I bought a packet of cilantro seeds. I had coriander in my spices. They look identical. On that last row marked coriander, I sprinkled seeds from my spice rack. We’ll see!
The packets said these seeds should sprout in 7-21 days. When we got back in town, I already had little lettuce sprouts coming through the soil. They were tiny, but they were there.
This is how they looked 3 weeks later:
I have the beginnings of everything except the coriander spice. Although I read they could sprout, they often did not.
And the arugula.
Until next time! Be sweet.
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