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Tomatoes: anyone use oyster shells as calcium for their tomatoes???

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tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

February 10, 2012
3:14 PM

Post #9002155

want to glean from you all ..some more.. :)
was going to get some agriculture limestone.. i need some calcium in my soil where im
going to put my tomatoes this yr.. always read about those with access..near the ocean..
crushing oyster shells..as a slow release source of calcium..
so i bought some..and thought why not..
what are others experiences with using oyster shells..???
much thanks...
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 11, 2012
9:48 PM

Post #9003642

Never tried them. Chemically it's mostly calcium carbonate, just like limestone. Ground to a fine powder they're sold as a calcium source for birds and in calcium supplements for humans.

If you're collecting your own, I'd suggest two things. First, make sure they have been out in the weather for a while or else soak them in a lot of fresh water to leach out any remaining salt. Second, grind them to a fine powder if you want an effect in the same season. Calcium carbonate breaks down and releases it's calcium slowly, and the smaller the particle size the more quickly the calcium will become available. Also be aware that, just like other forms of calcium carbonate, oyster shell powder will raise the soil pH. Normally this is OK, or even a good thing if your garden soil is acidic, but if you're in an area with alkaline soils you might want to look for a different source.

Speaking strictly for myself, it seems that the effort and equipment needed to grind oyster shells fine enough to be useful as a calcium source would have a hard time competing with simply buying already-ground limestone, which last time I checked was still just a few dollars per 50# bag. YMMV.

-Rich
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

February 12, 2012
5:36 PM

Post #9004477

ya.. i did get some from source in georgia.. i am going to soak them for couple weeks
in water..changing out..
here in ut.. we do have moderately alkaline soil.. i do find with all my composting
and adding peat.. that my soil tips more acidic..slightly.. good point on how soil is though..thanks :)
i figure will be a good job for me to pound some shells to powder..LOL
Carolyn
Salem, NY
(Zone 4b)

February 13, 2012
10:48 PM

Post #9005935

I'm just curious as to why you want to add Ca++ to your tomatoes. With few exceptions soils have enough of it except for two circumstances; soil too acid so Ca++ is bound in the soil, and that can be reversed by altering soil pH, and the second is NO Ca++ in the soil which is extremely rare.

Most folks I know never add Ca++ to the soil, and I know I wouldn't without a soil test to indicate what the current situation is with regard to soil Ca++.

Carolyn
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 13, 2012
11:31 PM

Post #9005947

Carolyn wrote:I'm just curious as to why you want to add Ca++ to your tomatoes. With few exceptions soils have enough of it except for two circumstances; soil too acid so Ca++ is bound in the soil, and that can be reversed by altering soil pH, and the second is NO Ca++ in the soil which is extremely rare.

Most folks I know never add Ca++ to the soil, and I know I wouldn't without a soil test to indicate what the current situation is with regard to soil Ca++.


Carolyn, around the time I was in school there were some studies that showed a benefit from using Calcium Nitrate as a fertilizer, especially for tomatoes. That was in Georgia, where many of the soils are highly weathered clays, and in situations where liming was considered too slow. IIRC, the calcium not only was thought to directly benefit the tomatoes, but to some extent competed with the excess of unwanted cations that were present in the soil solution. That was many years ago and not my research, so I may be mis-remembering.

-Rich
GrowingNVegas
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9a)

February 20, 2012
6:38 PM

Post #9014065

I always put crushed egg shells in the hole when I transplant my tomatoes.

It is a tradition in my family and I was told the calcium in the shells helps stop blossom end rot. This may or may not be true, but I have not had an instance of blossom end rot yet. It is a tradition/ superstition I will be sticking with a long time.
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

February 21, 2012
12:01 PM

Post #9014790

much thanks all..
growingN vegas..i try to get my hands on all the egg shells i can too..
i put in my compost.. i use to go get egg shells from a fairly close egg processor..
till they wanted to charge me for the shells..LOL.. all they did was throw them away.. go figure..???
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 22, 2012
6:51 AM

Post #9015650

tropicalnut777 wrote:i use to go get egg shells from a fairly close egg processor..
till they wanted to charge me for the shells..LOL.. all they did was throw them away.. go figure..???

Really not too hard to figure. Eggs and eggshells contain proteins that make them idea media for growing bacteria - one of the reasons IMHO that they provide a little extra boost to plants. Raw egg is a well-known vector for salmonella poisoning. The broken shells would also attract vermin from roaches and flies to rodents. My guess is that the health inspector told them they would need to remove the broken shells from the processing area ASAP to minimize the health risks, or that they would need to provide some isolated storage to prevent contamination of their product. If they could get cash for the shells, they could justify spending the time and money to store the shells. Otherwise, they would be forced to dump them in the trash.

-Rich
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

February 23, 2012
10:58 AM

Post #9017190

true enough rich.. they did well in my compost.. and plants seemed to
appreciate it..
now im going to be hammering the &*(%$^ out of oyster shells..LOL :)
i'll save it for a day i need to get some anger issues resolved..LOL

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