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Common household remedies request

Dinner, before weeding: Fresh cut herbs, a chopped just-dug-up onion, and local butter for frying them, then scrambling local eggs very very slowly. Then pepper, fleur de sel.

Yes, I know the fancy salt sounds expensive, but the nice thing about excellent ingredients, at least for me, is that I use less of them. And smaller portions are good for weight loss (just like eating dinner before weeding is better than eating dinner after weeding, especially when I've been sitting at the computer all day).

Oh, and the onion was a lot sweeter, and practically tearless -- I guess because it was fresh?

Anyhow, to my question: Now I've got eggshells, and am going to have more of them. Are eggshells any good in the garden?

I was thinking I could use them to protect my napa cabbage and daikon against slugs. Readers?

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Bryan's picture
Submitted by Bryan on

Rather than paying for crushed limestone. Eggshells provide the same nutrients, so they definitely belong in the compost pile.

Against slugs they are crushed and spread around the plants to be protected. Slugs don't like crawling over them. [Think about walking barefoot on a gravel path.]

Submitted by lambert on

... and we're starting to get a lot of rain again. Nothing like last year, with 22 straight days, but still -- Slug City!

Submitted by ohio on

Alice B., that is.

In a saucepan melt 1-2 Tb for each egg (or as much as you can stand). Add salt and pepper to taste. Break eggs in a bowl so no shells get in and add to melted butter one at a time. Whip egg until blended before adding next egg.

Fresher eggs and butter, the better. The trick is in the whipping them together over gentle heat. It ends up kinda fluffy.

Submitted by ohio on

Best use of eggshells? Feed em to your laying hens."A nervous man should keep Rocks, a calm one Reds." E.B. White.

Time to get yourself two hens. You can find them on CL or your local animal rescue. You can even get chicks and raise them. Two won't be very loud or dusty, esp. Rocks, and they'll pick through you scraps to augment their diet.

I'll tell how to build a chicken tractor and you'll be a happy fellow.

Submitted by lambert on

Otherwise, I would. The prospect of what is essentially free food is very attractive, and I think they might be good for insects. But alas.

Historiann's picture
Submitted by Historiann on

I compost eggshells all the time, but never knew that they had direct, practical uses. Thanks for the tips, friends!

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

how you be, woman? so good to see you around. i hope you and yours are well and would love to see any updates on your projects. you know you inspire me.

lb: do you mean you can't keep them bc of zoning issues, or temperature issues? if it's the latter, that surprises me. surely some chickens are farmed in ME. no? if it's the former, get active with a local CSA working to change the zoning laws to allow for keeping chickens. that's a happy trend i'm reading about in burbs and towns all over.

Submitted by lambert on

Which is a real shame. I was mentally prepared to do this, too, since I have friends who keep chickens, but no. Not ducks, either.

It's too bad there's not something equivalent. Turtles???

Valley Girl's picture
Submitted by Valley Girl on

Lambert, I looked briefly at what I think might be your local code, and found this part

The keeping of two or fewer small barnyard animals as pets shall be
excluded from the above conditions 18-124(5)(c)1.—5. A mature small
barnyard animal must weigh less than 20 pounds. The keeping of small
barnyard animals shall not have an adverse impact on adjoining property.
Use must comply with the Town's noise ordinance.
Art. V, § 18-124 LAND USE

When I was growing up we had a duck as a pet. Laid an egg every day, tho it was sometimes hard to locate them. This was in very suburban LA. Duck eggs are delicious. And, her prime diet was yard slugs. She really was a pet- had tons of personality. Tried to take over "mothering" a new litter of kittens! And, I don't remember her being noisy. The yard was fenced, tho, so she didn't stray into neighbor's property.

Maybe 2 ducks isn't worth it, but... as pets they are a hoot! Better than bantams (the only chickens we had in a later locale).

Submitted by Lex on

Now it looks like you have to get some poultry. All the cool kids are doing it.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

there are many ways to get around zoning laws, even if you can't raise chickens. farming fish and trading it for eggs at the CSA may be an option for you, or maybe raising chinchillas or something like that for their fur.

still: i say get active with local chicken farmers and others looking to change zoning laws. it must happen sooner or later, and there are plenty of towns that have already adopted new thinking about urban farming. you know as well as i do it only takes a dozen people or so all clamoring for the same thing at a zoning board meeting to get them to change things, most of the time.

Submitted by lambert on

I have to say that I like the idea of collecting eggs a lot better than I like the idea of slaughtering hamsters. (Yes, I know I've got to slaughter the chickens ultimately.) Call me squeamish!

I think CD is right, that the thing to do is change the zoning.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

it's hard enough for me to fish! :-) but i really do want chickens, eventually. just don't have the time for them just yet. when i have a growing structure that can extend my season, i think that will be when i start looking into to protein source farming here. i still think i'll be going with fish, however. a fish pool inside a passively heated growing structure kills two, um, birds with one stone. the fish pool retains heat and keeps the structure warm, as well as provides a place to farm a little algae for the compost pile, and obviously the fish. if it's possible (and it probably isn't for me) i'd love to farm a species of fish that produces tasty roe as well as good fish flesh.

as for furry creatures, one can always raise them, but trade or sell them to those with the stomach for slaughter.

Submitted by ohio on

At least, you can see what the hens are doing and they do funny stuff. Ours would come to the bedroom window in the a.m. and yell at us to get the hell up. When you looked out at them, they would freeze, like they realized they just got caught, then turn around and run back to the chicken yard and act all innocent.

We're doing dandy, CD, thanks for asking. I may post an update.

Anyway, doves are a good idea. Quail are another, tho their eggs are tiny. And you don't have to slaughter if you don't want. Our hen Esther lived to be seven or eight and when she stopped laying, she was like, a teacher who showed the hens we rescued where everything was and how to eat raisins from our fingers.

How about bees? Bees are cool. Are you allowed to keep bees? Yout local apiary association will help you. And govt agencies do grant variances---or go another way. Share eggs with your neighbors and few will complain about hens.

My friends Mark and Halley kept two pigs in their baeement and no one cared. They were named Wallace and Nan. But I live in the sticks and of course you keep livestock in the basement if you can. That's just good sense.

Submitted by lambert on

My father kept bees. Would need to be organic, though -- no Colony Collapse Disorder.

I was mentally adjusted to keeping chickens and had it on the list, until I found out that my local zoning forbade me.

Wait, doves lay eggs like chickens? I thought the recommendation was for their meat, not their eggs.

Hookfan's picture
Submitted by Hookfan on

are edible, and are similar to chicken. doves are easier to raise imo. See here.

Submitted by ohio on

said that CCD has been diagnosed as nosema combined with massive stressors---habitat destruction, pesticides, veroa mites, etc.,---resulting in colonies collapsing because of disease. Nosema is terrible and the best way to handle it is to manage moisture and keep the colony itself healthy. But a weak colony in a bad environment---it's awful. The fab GF is describing it to me and it's really horrible: basically, their little bee stomachs explode.

There is a treatment for nosema, but the best method is good hive management. I'm cautious about calling bee-related stuff organic because bees will go into blossoms that have been sprayed. Unless you test the honey, wax, etc., for trace chemicals, you can't be sure it's really organic.

(The fab GF is going to get colonies running again this spring. And I still have ten or fifteen pounds of rendered beeswax to turn into stuff.)

As far as doves, of course they lay eggs. Same thing with quail. Quail eggs are delicious, though tiny. I know some people who used to keep mated pairs of quail in empty electrical cable spools wrapped in hardware cloth, so they don't require much room, either. But I've never kept them, so I don't know.

Submitted by lambert on

On the eggs, the attractive thing for me is that with chickens two eggs == one meal (at least for awhile). And with a reasonable sized coop, I can get that yield. I don't know if that's true with quail or doves.

On the bees, I was hasty. I know bees do what they do, and I can't prevent them from encountering horrible petroleum poisons. What I meant and should have written is that healthy bees will be able to surmount stressors -- and that it makes sense to me that the old Root-style hives, the white boxes, aren't the right approach. Trees aren't square, see?

Submitted by ohio on

And people have kept bees in containers with all sorts of shapes, including skeps. And bees have suffered from various maladies as long as they've been around.

The Langstreth boxes provide for moveable frames so you can check for disease, find queen cells, and look for other problems---and are legally required. Here anyway. They've been in use for at least a hundred years and were designed based on what bees do naturally.

Bees wouldn't move into a bee box if they didn't want to. They would not live in bee boxes if they didn't find an advantage in it. Bees are not domesticated and I trust the bees to know what's best for themselves.

CCD isn't the fault of the boxes. If it was, we'd know, and there'd be immediate calls for new practices and right quick. Unless the international beebox cartel is involved. Those bastards.

Destruction of habitat and incessant pesticide use are more likely key stressors. Use of antibiotics prophylactically may be another contributing factor. Perhaps selection by beekeepers of queens based on their ability to produce offspring who maximize honey production and not on their ability to withstand disease may be another factor. I'd even consider the use of sugar water during honey flow as placing stress on a colony, but even then, I'd want to see evidence.

Do you have any evidence that using bee boxes is bad for bees?

Hookfan's picture
Submitted by Hookfan on

depends on how many you are willing to keep. Doves/pigeons can lay all year round in heated environments-- BUT not as frequently (or near frequently) as chickens. Pigeons are generally larger (thus meatier-- their usual use)and lay larger eggs {almost the size of small chicken eggs, maybe even equal to Bantam eggs}--if one obtains the larger size for stock. Pigeons (iirc) generally require flight to remain healthy (can put your stock at risk) while I believe most doves don't.
By the way, pigeon/dove manure is good for your garden. . . and doves have much less messy manure (more like pellets than goo).
Here's a place to go for some info on micro-livestock

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

i've had duck, quail, chicken, super special chicken...

i'm sure there are exceptions, but my understanding is that even emu and ostrich eggs are edible.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

i don't say this will work for everyone, but goddess has it worked for me! i'm talking swarms of honeybee pollinators.

monarda. it's called "bee balm" commonly for a reason. it's sooooo easy to grow, too easy, in fact. it's pretty! it's a late season bloomer! it grows in deep shade, is drought tolerant, and comes in many colors. and it spreads and spreads and spreads, left unrestricted.

i'd love to keep bees, but i'm a coward. i may someday put in a 'bee barn' or something, to encourage them and give them a home, but i doubt i'll harvest honey or try to manage them by hand. in the meantime, huge swathes of bee balm take care of getting those pollinators here.

ask a neighbor, if you're poor, if you can split some. they're like hostas; you can split them any time of year and they'll likely grow. if you have limited space, make a specific bed for them alone, they are very aggressive. but: beautiful:

http://www.google.com/images?q=monarda&o...

Submitted by lambert on

and I'm getting a lot of bumble bees.

And it does spread. Like the Plant Sale Ladies said: "We don't sell anything that isn't invasive."

Submitted by ohio on

but they require, like all good relationships, attention.

The fab GF is the beekeeper up here as she notices small changes by such small creatures and what those changes mean. I do the shitwork, which comprises lifting heavy stuff and saying things like, "Ow! I just got stung again."

We share a honey extractor and capping knife with a friend of ours in the city. We load honey supers into her truck and take them down there away from the colonies, so we have less honey stealing and angry bees. The empty comb is then reused during the next honey flow, though this year everything got destroyed as protection against colony collapse. We didn't have that happen, but as a precaution, all of our bee furniture got or is getting burned. Better to destroy the gear than destroy the bees.

Anyway, you can alway volunteer to be the grunt for an experienced beekeeper. It doesn't take much time in the bee yard to learn what you need to learn, the first of which is that bees are going to do what they're going to do and you are not in charge. It's pretty interesting.

And you don't have to harvest the honey. The bees will eat it through winter, so no worries there. If you do harvest the honey, though, it is liquid gold and you can trade for just about any local food you want,

It does take time, though. And some lovely new clothes, including a white jumpsuit thing, a hat with stylish veil, and gloves. Oh, and an adrenaline injector thing in case you have a reaction to a bee sting.

Guess that last bit sounds kinda scary.

Seriously, your local apiary society is a good place to start and you can get a buttload of experience and knowledge there if you want it.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

easily or economically, yourself. that seems like the logical answer to me, lb.

i should go find that hosta farmer site i often refer to, he's got it all figured out. the answer isn't trying to do it all yourself, the answer is growing and farming what is easy and cheap for you, and hooking up with locals and trading for what you can't do. basic, logical.