The 1 Item Of Food Waste UK Gardeners Should Always Add To Their Compost

Waste not, want not.
Plant care at home. Sustainable Gen Z lifestyle.
Daniel Balakov via Getty Images
Plant care at home. Sustainable Gen Z lifestyle.

With the mild winter and nearing spring causing early hayfever symptoms for some, we can at least console ourselves with a comforting fact; the UK’s gardens are waking up.

If you’re a keen gardener, the bleak winter months may have offered you a welcome respite from backyard work.

But easing into seasonal chores doesn’t mean you have to toil away ― in fact, one of the most effective additions to your soil is probably lying in your bin bag as we speak.

In a recent Facebook post shared with the (inaccurately-named, IMO) Dull Men’s Club, a site user said, “One of my dullest winter activities is to store the winter’s consumption of eggshells then pulverise them into powder and use them the following spring/summer to sprinkle on the soil of tomato plants suffering from ‘blossom end rot’ (a very common and very annoying occurrence in the UK which can ruin a crop).”

Does that work?

The theory Beverly Finnegan, the poster behind the suggestion, shares is that ”[blossom end rot] is caused by lack of calcium in the soil so this works a treat every time! Also, slugs and snails don’t much like it either.”

Blossom end rot indeed happens when plants don’t get enough calcium, but that problem doesn’t always come from the soil ― “more often, there is plenty of calcium in the soil, but its availability for uptake and transport to fruits is impaired,” says the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW).

In this case, making sure your plants aren’t over or under-watered will help. But if not, “have your soil tested periodically to determine if there is sufficient calcium in the soil. If not, add calcium (e.g., lime, bonemeal, eggshells),” the UW says.

So, it can definitely help with blossom end rot in some cases provided it’s ground up finely into a powder ― though unfortunately, crushed eggshells don’t seem to stall slugs and snails.

Can it help with anything else?

Yes! Dried, ground-up eggshells that are completely devoid of whites or yolks make an amazing addition to your compost if it contains worms, WebMD says.

This is because “worms, like chickens, use grit to help grind up their food, and ground eggshell works well for this purpose.”

Just make sure to clean your eggs before using the shell. “Don’t compost the inside of the egg — the yolk or the white — because it may draw rodents and flies. Rotting eggs can also make your compost pile stink,” WebMD says.