Organic Pest Control with Eggshell Powder
I always find it interesting to think about the way living things grow. As humans, we control and consume what’s good for us (for the most part), and we have found endless ways to destroy that which is in our way in the name of our own betterment and growth. But if, for a minute, we disassociate ourselves from our extreme practices as humans (who are undoubtedly plundering the Earth) and we look at this from a more basic level, all living things go through a process of give and take and exert forces on other living organisms for their own survival.
Even in a seemingly benign practice like gardening, we are always confronted with this reality.
How do I protect the things I help grow from other living and breathing things that would otherwise destroy them? There are of course many answers to this question, and if you are reading this blog, you are probably not interested in the chemical-infused option, but the more natural option still involves an order of dominance of garden over pests. I suppose when we make the decision to garden, we also make the decision to protect it and help it thrive, so here is one tip on doing it organically.
In the garden, beetles and slugs can do a number on your plants, so to battle these unwanted garden visitors, you can save up your eggshells and put them to work. There is a well-known organic pesticide called diatomaceous earth, which is basically the fossilized remains of creatures that are ground into a fine powder. This works as a pesticide control because it gets under the shells of beetles and acts like bits of glass, killing them. Snails and slugs will also die if they slink across these upcycled leftovers. Gross and cruel as it sounds, this is the reality when protecting your garden, and I think it’s best when we are honest about and conscious of the actions we take. Instead of purchasing diatomaceous earth at the store or online, we can make our own using leftover organic eggshells.
To get to work, here is what you’ll need to do to make an organic eggshell powder:
Wash the eggshells:
As simple as it sounds, rinse the inside of the shells to get rid of any leftover materials.
Dry the eggshells:
You can place the eggs on a paper towel or put them in a paper bag for a few days; the key is to make sure that they are not stacked. If you stack them, they might start to mold and stink a bit, which I learned the hard way. The other way you can dry the eggs is by putting them in the oven at 180F for about 20 minutes, which was my preferred way after testing this out.
Grind the eggshells:
Once you’ve dried your eggshells, they will be a bit brittle. I crushed these with a rock at first but found they were more easily broken down by simply squishing them in a paper towel or a paper bag. This step is just to help compact things for the grinder. After crushing, I used my mini food processor to grind mine down further (aim for less than 1/12 of an inch if you can) and was pretty happy with the results.
Thankfully, I have not had to put this new recipe to use yet, but I will definitely be ready when the time comes. You can make this powder, use it, or store it uncovered in a dry location for later use. Mine is in my garage along with the rest of my garden goodies.
When battling unwanted creatures in the garden, you can apply the eggshell powder directly onto the plants as well as at the base of the plant. Be aware that you should re-apply it after a heavy rain. Because eggshells are so versatile, you can use them as pest control as well as nutrition for your plants, be it for growing tomatoes (link) or making compost (link).
A big thank you to Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs @peteandgerrys for helping bring this post to life and for supporting urban growers and small farms all around the country. This is third in a four-part series of blog posts to promote growing practices in small spaces. I am very grateful for their support and mission and hope you enjoy this content with a sprinkle of upcycled eggshells.