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.

Worthy Flavors Home Delivery Review – Disappointed

Worthy Flavors produce review with photos of my delivery box.

Today I received my second home delivery of vegetables from Worthy Flavors. I wanted to love this company and hoped for great vegetables delivered from local farms. Today I was very disappointed in what I unboxed.

What Came in my Worthy Flavors Box?

Here is a look at the box as it looked when first opened, and the products on my counter after unpacking. It feels a little sparse for the money.

This is the organic box, which at the current time costs $47.95. I had signed up for delivery every 2 weeks. Read about my first delivery here.

Worthy Flavors at FaceBook Lists Box Contents

Below is the list of produce which was to be in each of the boxes. I found this on the Worthy Flavors site on FaceBook. I was looking forward to blueberries and pretty much all the rest.

However, not only did I not receive blueberries, peaches, or carrots, I was pretty disappointed in many of the items I did get.

Below is a photo of everything that was included in my Organic Box. I paid over $47 for this….!

Worthy Flavors produce delivery review

First the good. The little bag of strawberries is good. The tomatoes look very good and need to ripen a bit. The green peppers are not “minis” as listed, but look nice. Sweet potatoes are good and the romaine lettuce is a bit wilted, but not bad. The red onion is fine.

Now the bad. I hate blackberries, which is not their fault, but a downside. I threw them in the woods for the animals. The red leaf lettuce was horribly wilted. The cauliflower looked quite old. (I also got cauliflower in my last box, and it was wonderful.) The leaves on this head were wilted, and there were black spots on the head.

The cucumbers are HUGE! One was smushed and I absolutely would not have purchased these at the store. I haven’t eaten an apple yet, but I would pass on apples that come from Florida. I’ll probably make a little crumble using them.

Where are the oranges (good ones- my last box contained dry and tasteless oranges), grapefruit, lemons and limes that Florida is known for? In fact, I had hoped to receive crops that were in season by month in Florida.

On top of the fact that much of my produce was disappointing, I now have four more water bottles that I don’t want.

Not only that, but my water bottles have no ice in them when I unbox. I’ve seen videos where the bottles come still partially frozen. I only live a few hours north of the location of Worthy Flavors in Florida, so why wouldn’t my bottles have ice? It is winter here, so not super hot. What would happen in summer?

My guess is that the Worthy Flavors box is packed ahead of time and the ice melts and the produce wilts. Otherwise, I surmise that they are packing gross vegetables on purpose! The cauliflower looks like it has been sitting around for quite a while.

When I pay good money for a home delivery service I expect very good quality items which goes along with sending in-season food. I know that part of that fee goes toward packing and shipping, which is understandable, but when I open the box, I want produce that looks fresh-picked and yummy.

Recycling

I want to be eco-friendly and the packing that comes inside the box claims to be recyclable, but my town won’t take it.

Also the fact that water bottles are included in every box is a bit of a minus for me. I understand the attempt to send something that can be recycled, but I don’t want them.

I do recycle the box and cardboard inside.

Cancelling Worthy Flavors

I have cancelled my subscription to Worthy Flavors. I’d rather shop local and pick out my own good vegetables and spend much less money in doing so.

By the way, when you want to cancel your subscription on the Worthy Flavors site, it comes up as a “cancellation request”, saying they will respond in 1-2 business days. I thought, Oh Boy. But, I immediately got an e-mail from the company saying my subscription had been cancelled.

Worthy Flavors produce delivery review

It’s too bad that this didn’t work out. I was hoping to support local farmers and get good quality vegetables at the same time.

This place is a fail for me.

More From This Blog

My Favorite Low Carb Vegetable Casserole Recipes

I am not a big follower of recipes, but online recipes can give me ideas. Now that I don’t eat pasta, my favorite low-carb, vegetable casserole recipes are Keto and (mostly) kidney friendly.

Before I continue, I am not a medical professional nor am I a dietician. Do not consider this post as a recommendation for any type of diet. Do your own research or ask a medical professional if you have PKD or CKD. I’m still learning how to eat.

Eggplant casserole ready to bake
Small casserole with eggplant layered meal – ready to bake.

Pinterest and Keto diet sites are loaded with food ideas, but many include tons of cheese and too much salt. My advice is to cut down on the cheese and salt that seems to be the basics of many Keto foods, and concentrate on eating more vegetables.

Most Diets Have Nothing Against Vegetables, But…

Usually you are perfectly safe when eating organic, fresh or frozen vegetables. However, some vegetables can be high in carbohydrates (anti-Keto) and high in potassium and phosphorus (anti-kidney).

Balancing a low-carb diet with safe foods for those of us with kidney disease can be tricky, but not impossible. We have to be careful of dairy also, so a little cheese on top of the casserole is better than layering it throughout.

Tomatoes are not kidney friendly due to their high potassium levels, but adding small amounts of sauce with the vegetables, or a few slices of tomato within the layering will add great flavor. Remember, this is a dish that should feed 4-6 people. So, how much tomato (or cheese) would you be eating per serving?

Sliced veggie casserole is Keto food
A simple casserole that is Keto friendly

The basics to creating a simple vegetable casserole is to slice, layer and bake. That’s it, and you can choose what vegetables to use.

I enjoy making my own tomato sauce using herbs from my garden, but organic, store bought (low sodium) is fine too. Just don’t go overboard if you have kidney problems.

Favorite Vegetables to Use in One Dish Meals

My favorite casserole uses eggplant, but I can’t always find decent eggplant at the store. My second favorite vegetables are zucchini and summer squash. It’s always best to buy what is in season because it will be the freshest. Spicy and yummy peppers can add great flavor.

I‘ve included some potassium info for those who need to watch it.

  • Eggplant, peeled or not *I slice it and sprinkle with salt, which is suppose to help with bitterness. The salt is rinsed away! Read here on How to Salt Eggplant.
  • Summer squash: Zucchini and /or yellow
  • Peppers add great flavor. Red bell pepper (251 mg.potassium) / Poblano pepper (410 mg. potassium)
  • Broccoli (288 mg. potassium, 1 cup chopped)
  • Cauliflower – I prefer a white sauce with this.
  • Sliced tomatoes (go easy if you have CKD / PKD) *High in Potassium
  • Sliced onion
  • Mushrooms (cook first)
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach *High in Potassium
  • Herbs, either dried or freshly chopped, add flavor and nutrients

Usually I choose whatever vegetable I have, or use a combination of two. I’m cooking for myself only, so my casseroles need to be smallish. One eggplant will usually fill my baking dish!

Keto casserole with eggplant and tomato sauce
Eggplant casserole

Make some tomato sauce or use from a jar.

Shred some of your favorite cheese.

Once the vegetables are sliced (which I do by hand) I begin to layer.

Make the Casserole

Think as if you were making lasagna.

  • Grease a baking dish – I use Ghee (Ghee is just clarified butter.)
  • Begin layering with one layer of veggies, a little tomato sauce, meat (if you are using it) and some cheese – or cut down and sprinkle cheese on top only.
  • Keep going until the dish is nearly full – it will bubble over if too full!
  • Pour the rest of tomato sauce over, if any is left, and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 until the vegetables are soft – around 30-40 minutes.

This type of casserole can contain pre-cooked meat if you want. I’ve made meatballs and sliced them up for one of the layers. Usually I avoid adding meat because too much red meat / protein is not good for kidneys. I prefer an all-vegetable casserole.

Layering the meatballs and zucchini
Layering the meatballs and zucchini

Simple and Healthy Eating

My goal was to help my readers see that recipes are not needed when it comes to baking healthy casseroles loaded with vegetables. And who needs pasta?

Honestly…. I have to eat! It does feel overwhelming while I try to do Keto and keep my kidneys going. I cannot cut every food out of my diet…!

Variety is best, and being aware of personal body needs and limitations should be the guide to creating awesome, guilt-free, vegetable casseroles.

For more Kidney health information read: Top 15 Healthy Foods For People With Kidney Disease. And this page is a good one: 17 Foods to Avoid if You Have Bad Kidneys.

Let’s Eat!

Meatball and zucchini casserole is Keto meal
Keto casserole

Ratatouille Recipe

This is my (easier and quicker) version of the original online Ratatouille recipe found at Tasty. I made a few changes.

Although it seems like you will be slicing and layering forever, this recipe does not take many vegetables at all so slicing was minimal. I used 2 very small summer squash, 1.5 small zucchini, 2 medium size tomatoes, and half (or less) of a large eggplant. I thought about digging out my mandarin slicer, but I really didn’t need it.

Most cooks used a large pan of some sort to create this dish. I decided to use three small round pans (about 6 inches across) because I am the only one who will eat it and I can freeze one of the servings.

What is Ratatouille?

The word “ratatouille” brings to mind that Disney cartoon about the mouse in the French kitchen helping a new young chef learn to cook. The dish for which the movie is named, is made of vegetables, usually the type that are harvested at around the same time in summer. This could mean all sorts of vegetables were used, and way back when, they probably used whatever was in abundance in the backyard garden.

I don’t know about the old original ratatouille recipes, but these days you see the dish as sliced and layered colorful vegetables. Because of this, all the various veggie flavors mingle while they bake. I was very happy with the outcome and ate it with some leftover noodles.

Ratatouille recipe
I sprinkled spices on before covering and baking

My own homemade sauce is my favorite, but this time I used store bought, low sodium, organic spaghetti sauce to save time. One medium size jar worked well to divide up between three small pans. I did sprinkle a little sugar on top of the sauce because the store bought sauce was not sweet enough for my taste.

I oiled the pans, then divided the sauce into each of the three pans. The sliced vegetables were layered on a plate (a few at a time) and then plunked into the pan. Once the pans were full, I tucked the remaining slices into the center and to fill in around the edge.

Vegetables to Use

The eggplant I bought was huge, so I cut each slice into fourths for layering. First I salted the slices and let them sit in my colander for about 20 minutes. This gets the bitterness out. Rinse the salt off before using. A Japanese eggplant, which is long and skinny, would probably work better.

I used 2 small yellow squash and only 1 and 1/2 zucchini. Since I only had small tomatoes, but not Roma, I cut the slices (from 2 small tomatoes) in half. The large eggplant slices I cut into fourths but only used about half the large eggplant.

Other vegetables that would work are thinly sliced bell pepper and onion.

Topping the Veggies

The original recipe I found said to add the herbs and oil after baking, but I sprinkled herbs over my slices before I covered them with foil to bake. It didn’t make sense to me to add all that nice flavor later on. Once the food was baked, I added nothing except a tiny bit of salt (because I add no salt when baking).

My Baking Time Was Reduced For the Smaller Size Pans

I used three small, round baking pans and baked them at 375 for 30 minutes, not 40. (They are covered with foil for the first baking sequence.) Once they were uncovered I baked them for an additional 10-15, which is less time than the 20 minutes suggested. My pans were small, so that makes sense. Just watch your baking time if you use smaller dishes.

Ratatouille recipe
Ready to cover and bake.

If you have a garden and can grow all these vegetables, your meal will be super cheap, and fresher than most. No wonder peasants were known for creating this dish! I wonder if they waited all year looking forward to tasting the first Ratatouille of summer?

I’ve seen some Ratatouille recipes baked in cast iron, but with the acidic tomatoes and sauce, I would use something other than cast iron. This recipe would work nicely in a pretty covered casserole dish. Or individual serving dishes / small cake pans like I used.

What to Serve With Your Ratatouille

Ideas for serving and eating the finished vegetable dish.

  • Serve over rice or noodles as a vegetarian dish.
  • Cook ground beef to combine with the tomato sauce to use as the base.
  • Make garlic bread (softened butter, minced garlic, parmesan cheese mixed and spread on bread and broiled to golden brown). Bread and ratatouille would make a perfect meal!
  • Serve Ratatouille as a side dish to any type of meat / fish, or in addition to a salad or other vegetable.
  • It’s awesome with macaroni and cheese! I liked it so much that the second time I made this recipe I put mac and cheese in the bottom of the pans, then the sauce, and vegetable layer.
Baked ratatouille is ready to eat
Bon Appetit

Ever since I found Ingrid’s Produce just down the street I have been a veggie cooking fool. Over the weekend I made a scrumptious tomato soup with fresh ingredients.

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