Garden of Eatin' / How-To / Seeds & Seedlings

Starting Seeds in Eggshells… Cute and Yes, Even Practical

Starting seeds in eggshells

You can start seeds in almost anything these days… peat pots, seed trays, toilet paper rolls, newspaper rolls, paper towels, or even that good old-fashioned thing called the ground.

But have you tried starting seeds in eggshells? It almost seems like an urban myth, with rumors that it’s possible, but little proof of people who have actually done it successfully.

Well, I can say with absolute certainty that it works, it’s ridiculously easy, and yes, it’s even practical.

While you can’t start a whole season of vegetable seedlings in eggshells, it’s handy if you just want to start a few herbs or flowers indoors, and have limited space in your house. An egg carton fits perfectly on a small windowsill, and by the time you’re ready to transplant the seedlings, everything goes back into the cycle by way of planting, composting, or recycling.

What You’ll Need:

  • Empty eggshell halves, rinsed
  • Recycled egg carton
  • Seed starting mix, pre-moistened
  • Seeds (small seeds such as herbs and flowers work best)

Start with clean eggshells

Start with clean eggshells. It’s perfectly okay to use unevenly cracked shells, as long as you have at least half the shell intact.

Fill each eggshell "pot" with pre-moistened seed-starting soil

Arrange your eggshells in an egg carton. Using a spoon, fill each eggshell pot with pre-moistened seed starting mix.

Place a couple of seeds in each “pot” according to your seed-sowing instructions. Leave the egg carton in a sunny south-facing window in the warmest room in your house.

Seedling started in an eggshell

Lightly mist the soil with a spray bottle every couple of days as needed. Since there are no drainage holes, take care not to overwater. A fine mist is all that’s needed for seed germination and new growth.

Once your seedlings have emerged, snip the weakest or smallest ones to allow the largest seedling room to grow.

Seedlings started in eggshells

Seedlings started in eggshells

After your seedling has developed its first set of true leaves (these are actually the second set of leaves to appear, after the cotyledons), you can transplant it into a larger pot or directly in your garden after a period of hardening them off.

Gently crush the shell and remove a few shards around the bottom. You can plant the whole thing this way, and the eggshell will decompose in the soil, feeding extra nutrients to your seedling.

Tear apart the egg carton and toss it into your compost pile, or add it to your recycling bin. Then… start your next batch of seeds with your next empty egg carton!

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on August 3, 2011.

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »