Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Egg-cellent Compost

I know I said you can’t compost meat in your backyard bin. And you still shouldn’t, so don’t. But there is one meatish item that is awesome for the compost bin and won’t end up a stinky mess. The incredible, inedible egg shell.

Egg shells are high in calcium, something plants need for cell growth. And we tend to have a lot of them (at least we do in my chocolate chip cookie loving household) so why not turn them into something useful? Egg-actly.

Egg shells will take a while to break down but you can speed up the process by crushing them before you toss them in the bin. You can even get out a nice hammer if you really want to break it up fast. Or if you just have pent up aggression and really need to smash something. I don’t think the egg shells will mind.

Some people rinse the shells or bake them to make sure they are free from salmonella. All the avid composters I know just crush them up and toss them in (of course, we may be the same carefree folks eating raw cookie dough when no one is looking). Since I doubt I’ll be licking my fingers next time I reach into my compost bin, I’m not too worried. But use your own discretion.

Another consideration: while egg shells may be great for your plants, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Consider testing your soil fertility to see what your soil needs. Call the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District for more information on soil testing (772-7645).

Supposedly you can compost other shells as well, but since shellfish tend to creep me out I never have. Has anyone tried composting other kinds of shells?


  1. My family loves clams and we have clambakes at least three times a year. I use clamshells as a decorative mulch, both whole and crushed. Talk about getting your frustrations out: try hammering a bunch of clamshells. Wear safety goggles, though.

    Holly U-H

  2. That's a great idea, Holly! I'll bet it makes really pretty mulch.

  3. Pistachio shells take forever to break down. But they are a nice darker brown color, unlike egg shells, so who cares if they are still there.

    It is recommended that you add egg shells to vermicompost bins, but I never liked the bits of white in the otherwise perfect crumbly brown compost. So pulverizing is really recommended here.

  4. I have found that the shells of boiled eggs will crumble quite easily in your bare hand, especially if left to dry.

    However, uncooked eggshell is too moist and yucky.
    Sometimes I crush them inside some kitchen (paper) towel, although that seems a bit wasteful (even though the towel also goes in the compost of course). So if possible, I use an old brown paper bag (like the ones our bread often comes in) (and of course the bag also goes into the compost).

    Great to find other composting afficionados (note that I resisted use of the term "nuts" :-) ) out there! :-)

    1. That's a great idea to break up the shells a bit more.