Starting Vegetable Seeds in Eggshells

While using my local, fresh, free range chicken eggs one day, I looked at the beautiful shell color and remembered something. I had read, at one time, about using eggshells as pots to start seedlings for the garden.

The shells were so pretty that I hated to just throw them out, so I began rinsing the broken shells to save.

free range chicken egg colors

Getting Ready to Plant Seeds in Eggshells

Here in central Florida frosts and freezes tend to happen in January and February, if they happen at all. By March the weather seldom gets all that cold, but can be chilly overnight. March is the month to plant in Florida.

However, seeds can be started indoors in February, or sooner, to have little seedlings ready to go into the ground by March. I planted mine in the middle of February.

With my organic bags of dirt – Black Gold by Sungro (Amazon affiliate link)- is what I used, and organic seeds purchased, I filled each eggshell and then stuck seeds down into the soil. Keep the egg cartons to use as the plant tray.

When the weather got nice enough, I put all the cartons outside in the sun for the day. I brought them inside each evening. And checked them often to add water.

Difficulties and Challenges to Eggshell Gardening

Unlike little pots, the eggshells are delicate. One online site said to put a pin hole in the bottom of the shell for drainage. I did not do that because I tried and failed to make a little hole. It is not really necessary as long as you don’t overwater. Also, with a hole in the bottom, the cardboard containers would be wet.

Watering can be challenging. The eggshell pots are very small. They will dry out quickly when outside in the Florida sun. I water the seedlings twice a day, and this is March. Because the pots are so small and I don’t want to overwater and have them sitting in a puddle, I use my pour-over tea pot which has a small thin spout. Alternatively you could use a paper cup or anything that allows you to easily add small amounts of water.

Get the Seedlings Outside During the Day

Each day I put the seedlings – or soil with seeds – outside into the sun. Once the plants begin to grow they will need lots of direct sunlight and also some moving air. When plants grow in slightly windy conditions, it causes the stems to become strong. Or so I’ve heard.

Seedlings growing in eggshells
Seedlings are about a month old

I’m lucky enough to be home all day and can easily do this. Even if the plants can sit in front of a sunny window it will be helpful.

All in all, be ready to spend some time caring for the little pots. You can’t just plant and forget.

Choosing Seeds to Grow in Starter Pots

It is tempting to go overboard when picking out seed packets! I’m picturing the bounty of fresh veggies – arms loaded as I come in from the back yard. Realistically, I certainly don’t have space for many plants and seeds are generally good for one year only.

I love almost all vegetables, but must be picky about which ones I will grow. Fresh herbs are one thing I would use often. My basil and parsley has diminished over the years so I wanted to grow those two things again. I also have had difficulty finding dill plants here in Florida, so I am trying to grow that. Dill and fennel plants have flowers that attract the Swallowtail Butterfly.

Italian flat leaf parsley seedlings
Flat leaf Italian parsley seedlings – lookin good!

Getting to start plants from seeds gives me the chance to learn what’s what in newly sprouted form.

The basil did pretty well, but something did eat some of my basil. I planted as much as I could, filling all the saved eggshells. I knew that some things would do better than others.

Basil seedlings in eggshells
Little basil plants

My yard needs more flowering plants. Some of these eggshells contain marigolds and cosmos. I plan to plant more of those flower seeds in larger containers as well. Flowers don’t have to be planted in the garden – especially when your garden is made up of a few grow boxes. They can be in containers to save on garden space.

Flowering plants in pots can be moved around the yard as needed to keep bad bugs away and hopefully draw in the beneficials.

organic seed packets

Larger seeds such as zucchini and cucumber can go directly into the ground. Let’s face it, I would need a lot more egg shells to get everything started. Also, I don’t know how well transplanting will go. More to come on that!

For now I am keeping up with the shell starters.

Go With the Flow and Stop Wasting Time

I’ve been growing fresh vegetables in my backyard for years. Now I struggle to get food to grow.

We learn from experience and observation. Life is about change. If we are wise, we will go with the flow and not waste time with something we cannot change. I am applying this philosophy to my backyard vegetable garden.

Observation and Common Sense

One thing I have observed since I began gardening in Florida is that a lot of vegetables simply won’t grow here. Maybe I am doing something wrong, but I grew veggies fine in New Hampshire. I am not an inexperienced gardener, but vegetable gardening in this climate is obviously beyond my grasp.

It’s been two years. That is plenty of time to grow something well. I’ve built up the dirt with compost and fertilizer, watered like mad, and thwarted raccoon attacks on the plants. I’ve picked worms, loved the lady bugs, and sprayed off mites. My little raised bed garden has given me very little to eat in return.

With the exception of about three eggplants (total) and occasional small bell peppers, there is little food coming from the backyard.

Herbs Seem to Flourish

On the other hand, my observation is that many herbs do grow very nicely here. In fact, my parsley, basil, thyme, mint and fennel have lasted a very long time.

Herbs are hardy. When I first began growing parsley I lived in New Hampshire. The green stems would push up through the first snowfall, which amazed me. Deer used to help themselves to the lush green herb.

In Florida I have had the same parsley plants growing in my garden for over two years! Parsley not only survives the cold, it can take the heat and oppressive humidity.

It is depressing to put work into trying to grow decent tomatoes, squash, zucchini and root vegetables, only to watch them rot, wilt or end up too tiny to bother with.

How long do I keep trying, only to watch the plants produce nothing I can eat? I’m about over it.

Changes All Around

My life is always changing, and recently it went through another change. My youngest son has moved out. He’s nearly done with college and does online classes, so he went back to the northeast to live. Good for him. Wish I could afford to do the same.  I did take a trip back to stay for a week, which was so nice.

My youngest son has always been a very picky eater. If I don’t make food he likes, he could literally go all day long without eating. So, I tended to make food he would eat. That type of food was very different from the type of food I eat.  Now that he has moved out, I can concentrate on cooking for me only.

This is a very new idea and it will take a while for my brain to wrap around the concept. I’ve been cooking for my children for over 40 years!  My way of cooking will be changing. Although I am not crazy about spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I am a very good cook. As an “almost vegetarian” meat is not my main focus. I love to cook soups, stews and one pot meals (using my Dutch oven) which are full of fresh vegetables.

Since I can’t grow all the vegetables I’d like to, I will concentrate on growing the herbs. I learned very late in life how much herbs can brighten the flavor of a meal. Now I can’t make anything without using herbs because it’s not worth eating.

Because my herbs will grow year round, I don’t have to spend time drying or freezing them.  Sometimes I even get to collect their seeds.  I still need to find a store that sells good fresh, organic vegetables.  Publix is a good store, but as I have discovered, their produce is not the best.

I also have access to fresh citrus, which I should begin incorporating into my food as well.  Both my lime tree and lemon tree are still growing, but the lime needs re-potting.

So I’m collecting recipes to make for myself and will concentrate more on eating healthy. The weather is much cooler now here in Florida, and I do get outside for walks as much as possible.  My neighborhood is a boring place to walk, and there are no hills to get my heart pumping, but I do what I can.

(They Yacht is not mine. Photo taken at a nearby Marina.)

The Garden in March, One Month Later

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My Garden, March 2nd

Last month I began to plant my little garden in my Florida backyard. Because the raised bed was not filled with dirt, I used black fabric pots.

I began with crops that were more suited to cooler weather, like peas and lettuce.

Well, Skittle the cat decided to sleep in the bed of peas, so now only one stalk is growing as the others were a bit crushed. It was just the right spot for a nap in the sun. No worries Skittle, I’ll eat 2 peas and be happy.

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Skittle in the Peas

I also planted potatoes and they are growing like mad. I followed the directions from a blog I read and began by only filling the bags part way. Then I have added dirt as the tops grew. And boy did they grow! Course I’ll have to wait and see what’s happening down inside the bags, but hopefully I’ll have some little red potatoes to eat one day.

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Growing potatoes

I also just planted cucumber seeds and I see today that they are popping through the soil.  It only took 2 days for that to happen!

My two pepper plants are doing well, and one is blooming like mad.  This may be the year I am able to grow peppers.  They like heat, and yesterday it was 88 degrees, so there ya go.

I have more cardboard to put down in the bottom of the wood enclosure to keep the grass from growing up through.  Newspaper would work for that too.  Eventually I will empty the dirt out of my pots and fill the enclosure.  But first…. I may try to dig up the grass beneath the enclosure.

I always thought I would just set up the wooden bed and fill it with dirt and I’m ready to plant.  Now I have read at EarthEasy that I should dig down a ways to loosen the ground so roots can go down into the dirt beneath the bed.  This makes sense, as some vegetables do have long roots, but I didn’t think they needed that much space.

It got me wondering what the roots of vegetables look like, and which ones need the most depth to grow well.

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Bib lettuce and carrots

The Bib lettuce needed to be thinned and the carrots were planted using paper strips.  I had never used carrot seed tape before, and I bought it by accident.  The old method of mixing seeds with sand when sowing small seeds works fine.  I still had to thin the seedlings, even when I used the tape.

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March Tomatoes!

I can honestly say I have never had tomatoes growing in my yard in March!   In fact compared to gardening in New Hampshire, growth here seems to be accelerated.

Every time I visit the garden section I keep an eye out for hydrangeas.  I haven’t seen any for sale.

Easily Grow Your Own Scallions From the Grocery Store

growing scallions
Grow scallions from the store

As I was chopping up my store-bought scallions, I noticed the little roots at the ends. I had read somewhere about growing produce from store-bought items, and decided to stick the ends of the scallions into my fabric pots filled with garden dirt.
Sure enough, a few days later I began to see growth! Now there are new shoots coming up and I will have scallions to cut soon to add to my cooking.

Some sort of animal was digging in the pot, but the onions seem to have come through it fine. I can’t wait to walk into my backyard and clip off scallions to add to my meals.

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