I wrote a while back about the first harvest of our spicy mustard greens from our raised bed garden. The story featured a few surprise guests in the kitchen! Finding caterpillars chugging along your cutting board like they owned the place is not something I wish to repeat! Not to mention, we had to throw a few sprigs of mustard greens out that looked like a lace doily. I decided almost instantly that I don’t want to share with the caterpillars anymore.
As Brian was cooking up a batch of wilted mustard greens with bacon, cherry tomatoes and walnuts, I was crushing eggs shells like a mad woman! I’d been saving our egg shells for weeks anticipating needing them once my tomato plants began to bear fruit. But, I just never got around to do anything with them.
So, why egg shells?
Well, if you crush saved egg shells and place them in a circle around the base of your plants, it will deter creepy crawlies like caterpillars. Apparently, they won’t cross the line because it hurts their tender little feet. Its been likened to walking across glass for them.
While it sounds so mean to treat caterpillars this way, I like the idea of this deterrent much better than Diatomaceous Earth. It’s like a little egg shell caution tape! DE is actually quite a but more destructive on a bug’s little body. I don’t mind a bug, I just don’t want it on my food, folks. So, if I’m still having problems I’ll resort to DE but I’m willing to meet Mother Nature’s creatures half-way if I can!
Adding egg shells to the garden also adds vital nutrients back into the soil, right at the base of your plants and vegetables. Egg shells contain calcium, magnesium and potassium!
Here’s How to Use Egg Shells in Your Raised Bed Garden!
1.) Save and rinse your egg shells. Let them air dry for about a day and store until you have a good batch to crush. Make sure they are dry. I tried to crush a batch that was still a bit moist and the white membrane liner clung to the shell. I didn’t get any pieces out of the process. They have to be pretty brittle to crush properly.
2.) Crush. I used a rolling pin and a sieve to get the finest of the pieces out. I was hoping to get more out of it, but the sieve is woven so small that I only got teensy bits out of this batch. I think I’m going to run the leftover large pieces through the Vitamix blender and see if it’ll pulverize them! Update: It worked so very well!
Sifting them through the sieve also made quite a mess.
3.) Take your crushed egg shells out to the garden.
4.) Form circles around the base of the plants you want to protect. I’ve demonstrated this technique on one of our spicy mustard green plants in the photo below. This was shortly after our harvest so we just have the smaller leaves remaining in the center.
Also, I don’t know what that one leaf on the ground is going to do. He’s just on his own. Ideally, I think you’d pluck that and get it off the soil – at it is, its just acting as a large drawbridge for the caterpillars to just line up and get on board!
It is interesting that we didn’t notice any caterpillar holes until after a large downpour. The mustard green leaves were sort of plastered to the ground for a few days and I think the bugs took that as their chance to latch on. Bunch of opportunists!