Oyster shell in the Garden?

bejay9_10(zone 9/10)January 12, 2010

I give my chickens oyster shell - recommended for their digestion aids (no teeth). It is supposedly rich in calcium also. When I planted my Bibb lettuce seeds, I sprinkled some shell over the newly planted beds. My thinking is that it would act like diatomaceous earth, and provide some calcium to the soil.

Perhaps it might aid in preventing blossom end rot, but that is just a wild guess. I did seem to have better success with the lettuce though, and perhaps it deterred the pill and sow bugs because of their sharp edges.

Anyone else use it?


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jimster(z7a MA)

Sea shells, egg shells, bones and teeth are composed of calcium phosphate. So, they provide both calcium and phosphorus to your plants.

Oyster shell that we sometimes use on driveways here on Cape Cod takes a very long time to decompose. The kind you feed your chickens is finely crushed, so will provide nutrients at a faster rate, but is still a slow release nutrient. You may find that desirable. Just don't count on quick results. I'm not so sure about it as a pest control. The sharpness of diatomaceous earth is different.

I buy bone meal by the large sized bagful. Depending on the brand, it can be very finely ground and is available to the plants soon after it is applied, while still decomposing over an extended time.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2010 at 4:55PM
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Oyster shells will take ages to disintegrate.
I through them in the fire place and they are still hard.
So I gave up on them as garden soil amender.
But bones and egg shells in the fire will get soft. Soup bones will come out of my fire place snow white that you can pulverize them easily.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2010 at 12:14AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Do you think oyster shell for chickens could act like perlite in a pot for drainage or would there be too much mineral release?

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 12:46PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Probably not too much mineral lease as oyster shell has low solubility.

Chicken grit (crushed granite) will have essentially no chemical effect on potting mix. It is used in bonsai potting mixes. Chicken grit is sold in several sizes. I use the "grower" size for that purpose.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 7:28PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

My feed store has very small bags of granite for 5 or so bucks. The bigger grit 50 pounds was quartzite and had silica warnings for 6 something; I think coarse sand would be cheaper. I didn't get the price for oyster shell. Perlite is what I need but I have to order it to get the big bag. I want something to mix with my pine bark fines that isn't so expensive. I thought the oyster shell might provide some lime and be lighter.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 7:49PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Perlite and chicken grit are both useful ingredients in potting mixes. But I don't think they are not interchangable. Perlite is very light while chicken grit is heavy. Their water holding capacity is different, although I can't tell you in what way.

Another useful item is kitty litter, which is calcined (low fired) clay. Similar to kitty litter, but better, is Turface, which is fired at a higher heat and is more durable. Turface is used on ball fields and golf courses. It is available at garden stores.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 9:02PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Thanks, I have seen Turface mentioned on the container gardening forum but have never seen it in the garden centers here.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 10:34AM
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We use a few bushels of oysters annualy, and I've learned to throw the shells out under our white pine trees, or compost them together with pine needles. In a couple years shells get 'punky' and easily crumbled by hand. At that point I put them (together with pine needle leaf mold) on the garden and they get ground up by normal tilling.
This also works with mussel shels but NOT with quahoag shells.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2010 at 12:05PM
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