A Tip from Jerry Baker

Linda’s posting this week made me nostalgic for some good old garden guru advice, so I couldn’t help but zip on over to Jerry Baker’s web site (www.jerrybaker.net) to see if he had anything interesting to tell me.  I wasn’t disappointed!  Here is one of his recommendations:

Three-minute eggshells

“Place eggshells in the microwave for three minutes, remove, crush into a fine powder, and place them in a cloth sachet. Then drop the sachet into your houseplant watering can to give your indoor plants a nice nitrogen-boost.”

Wow! how about that! Eggshells for a nitrogen boost!  Who woulda thought….  Anyway, after I saw this, I got to thinking, maybe, just maybe, there might be some nitrogen there…..

So I microwaved four eggshells, crushed them, and put them into a half-liter of water, then let them sit in the water for about 9 hours.  Then I filtered the water off and ran that water (along with a control sample) over to our soils lab to be tested.

And wouldn’t you know it?  That water DID have nitrogen in it!  About 5 parts per million!  Which is about 1/10th of what I would consider even close to a fertilizer application….So then if we do the math, that would mean that eighty egg shells per liter (about a quart) would make a decent shot of nitrogen.

Sorry Mr. Baker, I just don’t eat that many eggs.

4 thoughts on “A Tip from Jerry Baker”

  1. I would have been interested in the release of calcium from the egg shells. Given the frequent excessive alkalinity of tap water I wonder if this might be a real problem for potted plants.

    It is much too easy to play the game of gotcha with the colorful charactors that fill the roles of garden gurus in popular media. Your audience doesn’t take them seriously anyway. Much more sporting to pick on scientists who make logical leaps from legitimate hort research that turn out to be leaps too far or in the wrong direction.

  2. Alan, I think we would all be interested in taking fellow academicians to task for extrapolating research results too far. (I’ve done so before.) If you have suggestions, please let us know so we can follow up on them.
    I agree that most of our audience doesn’t take JB et al. seriously, but based on the continual commenting on some of our columns (compost tea and the cornmeal myth, for instance), there’s apparantly a segment that does.

  3. Alan, I agree with you — but it was Jerry Baker who started me down the professional track that I’m currently on, and so I feel committed to mention him now and again.

  4. OK, I guess you both are right, it’s just in this specific case it seemed like shooting trout in a barrel.

    Linda, I think research is always open to various interpretations and when someone’s stated interpretation here contradicts my experience (or my interpretation) I will generally let it be known- for better or for worse.

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