Are Eggshells Good for Tomato Plants? Benefits and How to Use

Those eggshells you are tossing in the garbage bin after preparing breakfast can be turned into something useful in your garden. If you are practicing either outdoor or indoor tomato gardening, there are several ways you can use eggshells to give your plants a nutritional boost as well as improve the condition of the soil.

An eggshell is mainly made up of calcium carbonate. Calcium is an important component in the soil, it helps the plants to build healthy and reinforced cell walls. It also has a balanced and efficient water transfer and carbohydrate translocation within the plant. Eggshells also become an organic matter that improves drainage and aeration of the soil once they decompose.

Benefits of egg shells for tomato plants

Are Eggshells Good for Tomato Plants

Here are ways in which eggshells are good for tomato plants:

1. Improves soil fertility

A large percentage of eggshells is made up of calcium carbonate. It also contains other nutrients like potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. Calcium is an important component of the soil that helps in building healthy cell walls of your plants.

Inadequate calcium in the soil can cause tomato plants to have stunted growth, and distorted and cupped leaves characterized by interveinal chlorosis. Tomato plants are heavy feeders that require a lot of calcium and other minerals in the early growing stages. Throwing eggshells in your garden can help to solve the problem.

However, it is important to note that a tomato plant requires calcium plus other minerals to remain healthy. Supplementing your usual tomato fertilizer with eggshells should be able to give you the best results. Eggshells also take a long time to break down before releasing calcium into the soil.

To speed up the process of decomposition, crush the eggshells into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar. Alternatively, you can use a food processor like a grinder. Mix the powder with soil in planting holes before planting your tomatoes.

2. Eggshells are an excellent mulch

Eggshells provide a brilliant mulch. It helps to retain soil moisture, prevents weeds from sprouting, and keeps the roots cooler in summer and warmer during cold seasons. Eggshell mulch also improves soil fertility after decomposing. It releases calcium and other nutrients into the soil in small quantities for a long period.

When you crush the eggshells and apply them around your tomato plants, they serve the same purpose as any other organic mulch like dried grass, leaves, barks, and straws. However, before using the eggshells as mulch, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned to prevent them from attracting various pests into your garden.

The common problem that many gardeners encounter when intending to use eggshells as mulch is the demand, especially when you have many plants. It takes a lot of time to collect eggshells. However, you can collect some from a local eatery within your locality.

3. They make good seed-starting pots

Are you lacking something to use as starting pots for tomato seedlings? Eggshells can do the trick. The eggshell halves can be recycled to be used as tiny pots to start the seeds. You simply fill the eggshell halves with a planting mix and place them in the seeds.

When transplanting, remove the seedling from the eggshell, crush it, and place it in the planting holes before placing it in the plant. The plant will also benefit from the calcium released by the decomposing eggshells. This method can be fun when done with your kids. It teaches them how to recycle some of their kitchen waste.

4. Prevents blossom end rot in tomatoes

For many ages, blossom end rot was thought to be a disease. However, this condition results from too much moisture in the plant. Eggshell releases calcium into the soil which regulates the amount of water that is absorbed by the plant.

Calcium also reinforces the cell wall of the plant. It also plays an important role in encouraging a balanced, healthy, and efficient movement of water and carbohydrates within the plant.

 Blossom end rot is among the most damaging conditions that can affect your plants. It is characterized by a small dark spot at appears at the end of the tomato fruit where the blossom is normally attached. The spot increases in size and can cause the entire tomato fruit to rot before ripening. All fruits on the plant can develop this condition.

5. Improves soil drainage

Tomato plant thrives in good drainage soil. When the eggshells break down in the process of decomposition, they release nutrients and other organic matter into the soil that improves drainage. The soil is supposed to retain some water to allow the plants to absorb it.

When the soil is too porous, the water percolates faster without giving the plants enough time to absorb. On the other hand, when the soil is too compact, it allows water to become stagnant on the surface. This can harbor diseases that may attack your plants.  

6. Enhances soil aeration

Using composted eggshells as a fertilizer helps boost the content of organic matter in the soil. Organic matter attracts various microorganisms like earthworms that create tiny tunnels in the soil. These tunnels allow air to circulate freely in the soil. Earthworm also feeds on organic matter to release nutrients into the soil.

7. Improve tomato seed germination

Mixing equal quantities of composted eggshells and soil provides the best environment for seed germination. They contain organic matter that restructures the soil to make it porous and hence improve drainage. It also improves soil aeration.

8. Regulates soil temperature

Using eggshells as mulch can help to regulate the soil temperature. It ensures the roots remain cooler in summer and warmer in cold seasons. Extreme temperatures can damage the roots of your plants and hence affect production.

How to prepare eggshells for tomato plants

Eggshells contain salmonella and other residues that can attract pests like pesky slugs into your garden. Before using them as a fertilizer, it is important to wash them thoroughly and air them to dry.

Alternatively, you can place the eggshells in a 300-degree F heated oven for 5 to 10 minutes. This will kill any bacteria on the surface as well as dry up any residues. Remove them from the oven and place them in a food processor to convert them into a powder.

As a gardener, you may see this process as unnecessary but it is very important. Powdered eggshells are easily absorbed by the plants. If you don’t have a food processor, you can simply grind the shells using a pestle and a mortar. I like mixing with a few dried coffee grounds.

When you have sufficient time, you can compost the eggshells to make fertilizer. You simply mix the eggshells with other organic materials like shredded leaves and wood ash and allow them to decompose. The mixture can be placed in planting holes. However, it should be prepared early enough before planting season arrives.

How to use eggshells on tomato plants

There are different ways you can use to add eggshells to your tomato plants. They include:

1. Using eggshells when planting

Eggshells contain a lot of calcium that can help to nourish the plants. To ensure your plants get maximum benefits from these nutrients, add some crushed eggshells into the planting holes before you plant the tomato. They will decompose and release calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron into the soil. As they do so, the plants will absorb the nutrients through their roots.

2. Use eggshells powder when watering

Crush the eggshells using a grinder or a pestle and mortar to obtain a powder. Mix the powder with water and apply it at the base of the plant. The plant will absorb the water together with calcium and other nutrients through the roots.

3. Composting eggshells before using

The eggshells may take a long time to break down and release calcium and other nutrients into the soil. Composting it with other materials like shredded leaves and wood ash can speed up the process. The compost fertilizer should be prepared in advance before planting season.

4. Mixing the eggshells with mulching materials

The other way of ensuring your plants benefit from the eggshell nutrients is by mixing it with mulching materials. They will release calcium and other nutrients slowly into the soil as they decompose. At the same time, the mulch will help suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture content, and regulate the soil temperature.

How often do you put eggshells on tomato plants?

When planting your tomatoes, be sure to mix the soil in planting holes with at least 1 tablespoon of eggshell powder. Tomato plants are heavy feeders and may require additional fertilizer after every 2 weeks.

Placing some eggshells around the plant as mulch is a sure way of ensuring your plants will receive plenty of nutrients. As the eggshells decompose, they release calcium and other nutrients into the soil slowly for a longer period.  

However, be careful not to add excess eggshells into the soil. Too many eggshells can cause nutritional imbalances by increasing sodium levels in the soil.

Final Thoughts

Like any other vegetable plant, tomatoes require nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to grow healthy and produce high yields. However, a lack or deficiency of calcium in the soil can spell doom to your plants.

Calcium ensures the plant cell wall develops properly as well as ensuring there is proper and efficient water absorption and carbohydrate translocations within the plant. So why put the health of your plants at risk when there are plenty of eggshells in your garbage?

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