The actual date of Easter varies from year to year. In 2015, it will be April 5.

  • 2016: March 27
  • 2017 April 16
  • 2018 April 1
  • 2019 April 16

If you have time, start this project a few weeks before Easter to have plenty of time for germinating your seeds.

The eggshell: could be white or brown. While white shells lend themselves to brighter, more vivid colors, brown shells also have a "homespun" or "whole wheat" look some prefer. (It has to do with breed of chicken, not with the purity of the egg.)

Getting the raw egg out: try tapping sharply with a blunt knife on the side of the raw eggshell about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way to the pointed end. Carefully detach the small half of the shell and put it aside. Empty the egg into a waiting bowl. Put the large half of the shell aside too. Repeat until you have as many eggshells as you want.

What to do with raw egg: make custard, quiche, French toast, bread pudding etc. You may be deft enough that you can separate the egg as you are cracking it. This merely increases the number of recipes you can try. With egg whites you can make meringues, souffles, waffles and tortes. With egg yolks you can thicken sauces and custards.

Next, rinse your eggshell parts v-e-r-y carefully. You could rinse them with mild dishwasher soap diluted quite a bit or a diluted bleach solution. You just would like not to catch Salmonella or any other nasty raw egg thing. Wash your hands thoroughly and carefully when you are all done. Try not to break any parts of egg shell.

If desired: dye your eggshells before planting. Organic Gardening gives instructions on dyeing eggs with natural ingedients, and Karen Jones wrote an article about it here. There are many natural, plant-derived dyes. It's true that anything that stains your hands will probably make a good dye. Or, simply buy Easter egg dye or food coloring at the grocery store.

I actually think these egg shell planters are most attractive with plain brown eggs, which hint at how compostable they ultimately are. The more complicated process you use, the farther it is from being just a shell.

Fill the cleaned half of the egg shell with pre-moistened potting mix. Be careful that it is not only pre-moistened but pre-drained, as there will NOT be drainage holes in the egg shell. Also be sure the potting mix is free of lumps, twigs and rocks, as the egg shell cum planter is fragile, of course, and will not stand up to mixing or tamping down the potting mix. Use the other small halves, which I think of as the lids, too, and display them near the egg shells. as if the plant material just burst out.

What to plant: you only wish to display the little bit of fringey first growth, so it doesn't even have to be something you want to save. Choose something with very fast germination, like grass or watercress, radishes or whatever. OR, do what I did and buy a plant already growing with tiny leaves, like thyme or savory. Break it up and plant a tiny bit in each shell. Very carefully, pour in some of your damp, fine, potting mix. Even more carefully, transplant in a tiny spoonful of plant. Display in an egg carton or basket. Place the lid nearby, as if the plant just burst out of the shell.

I thought of writing names with a white crayon of each of the guests at an Easter dinner, so each guest had an egg with his or her name on it. Totally cute! And maybe the best part, the next day you can plant them out in the garden in the Easter egg planters. Enjoy this adorable Easter display.

THUMBNAIL PICTURE: Thanks to Meghann and Paul Sheridan at Flickr.