Shrimp Shell Meal

Update: 2/27/2015

Question from George:
I’m having problems finding the shrimp shell meal you talked about at the fairgrounds the other day, the only place I can find it is on line and its a 50lb bag. If I bought the 50lb bag how long can I store it and it still be good. It would take me maybe 2 or 3 years to use that much with my small garden. How much would I use per square ft.?

Answer from Pat:
Shrimp shell meal appears to be an effective control fornematodes. As I stated in my talk at the San Diego Fairgrounds it contains chitin (the material out of which the exoskeletons of insects and crustaceans are made.) It also contains chitinase (an enzyme that eats up and destroys chitin.) The effect is slow starting since when combined with soil the chitinase first spends approximately four months consuming the chitin in the shrimp shell product and then having nothing else to eat and having multiplied, the chitinase consumes thenematodes and the effect can be reasonably long-lasting but one might need to add small quantities to the garden soil. (Not having used the product myself I am not sure of the intervals at which it needs to be added.)

The answer to your question about amounts to use can be found on the website of Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply but you will need to do some math to figure out how to use a small amount. I would just try with a pound or two for ten square feet being aware that it works best in moist soil and also is somewhat alkaline. Here is the link for shrimp shell meal. It’s worth every penny since it really appears to be working and some people mix some into their compost.

Up to now I have not found a source of smaller quantities of shrimp shell meal. As I also stated in my talk, the only regular source I know of is Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply which sells the product for agricultural purposes in fifty pound bags. It is unfortunate that some of the effective organic products are sold in containers too large for home gardeners. Until this problem is cured, each home gardener who has this problem needs to find his or her own solution. Some company could make a good business of bagging this product in smaller quantities and selling it to organic gardeners. You might try Cedros Gardens and see if they carry it in smaller containers. Anderson’s Nursery in San Diego is another possibility.

I cannot solve the amount problem, but suggest you bag some and share with friends or a garden club. My ideas for you are these: Contact an organic gardening club and see if they wish to share the unused remainder of what you will have. Bag it in smaller plastic and brown paper bags and sell it yourself on e-Bay. You might find it sells well if you write the ad in a good way to attract sales. You could even try selling it to a local nursery that sells organic products. Or sell it yourself at meetings of the San Diego Horticultural Society. It might sell quite well if you write a good label.

One of my daughters used this product in her own home garden. I am unsure of the exact amount she used since she said when I asked that she used “a few pounds”. She added it to her raised beds in which she had a bad nematode problem. It worked for her and all her vegetables are now flourishing. There are no package directions but she read the information on the website and figured all she needed was only a few cups for the size of the area she needed to cover. I am sorry I am unable to give more specifics on how much to add. Phone or email Peaceful Valley to find out how long you can store it. My daughter has had her bag of this product for 6 months so far and it still works.

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