With the Easter holiday approaching, many people are planning on celebrating time with family and friends, which includes typical Easter fare and the requisite brightly colored eggs.
Do you ever wonder what happens to all those colorful eggshells each year? The majority of them end up as waste. But, eggshells have a number of attributes and qualities that can serve other purposes, and thus save them from the landfill. If treated properly, with natural dyes, eggshells can be composted and used in the garden, as both a supplement and a pest deterrent.
Coloring Your Eggs Naturally:
Dyeing eggs naturally is simple and most of the ingredients may already be in your cupboards. Adding the colors with natural dyes is important, as it avoids putting unwanted substances into your garden, and thus into your diet.
Vinegar, a mild acid that will not weaken eggshells, is the main ingredient that allows the color to absorb into your eggs. When combining vinegar with colored water, the mixture colors the outside of your eggs. To color your water naturally, you can use turmeric, paprika, onions, oranges, beets, raspberries and grapes. Below is a list of ingredients that will help you get started:
Yellow: Turmeric, Carrots, Chamomile, Oranges
Orange: Paprika, Yellow Onions
Red/Pink: Beets, Cranberry Juice, Red Grapes
Blue: Blueberries, Red Cabbage
Brown: Coffee/Tea Grounds, Dill Seed
Green: Red Onions, Yellow Apples
Lavender: Grape Juice
You can find full instructions online at ‘Better Homes & Gardens’.
Composting Your Colored Eggs:
Eggshells are an important nutrient for your compost. They add calcium into the soil, which helps build strong plants. These nutrients will also help with preventing ‘blossom end rot’ in tomatoes, squash, peppers and other fruiting vegetables. Eggshells can help prevent slugs, snails and other insects from getting into your garden and can also deter deer.
Be aware that dirty eggshells can attract unwanted pests and animals, so be sure to wash out your shells in warm water and leave to dry, before adding them to your compost pile. This will also help with eliminating Salmonella bacteria from entering your garden. If desired, you can bake eggshells in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350-degrees to remove the bacteria without eliminating the calcium, although most bacteria is killed naturally at the temperatures reached during the composting process.
Crushing or grinding eggshells is not a requirement for your compost, but it does help speed up the compost process, as the smaller pieces will break down faster. Using a coffee grinder will get the smallest, most effective size pieces, but a blender or any other method of crushing them can also work.
Using natural dyes can be a fun way to color your Easter eggs this year as well as provide a nutrient boost to your compost and protection from unwanted guests. Even if you don’t color your eggs, help minimize waste by recycling your eggshells and add all the nutrients they contain to your garden.