Saturday, May 24, 2014

Oyster Shells

Last October we took a trip to the beach for Dean's birthday. While we were there we ate at an oyster shack.  Those that know me know I don't do slimy shellfish, but I remember noticing lovely white gravel in their parking lot and thinking it would look nice in a garden. Upon closer inspection I realized it was crushed shells, oyster shells.  How lovely and beachy, right? I mean they're free and the sun bleaches them nice and white while leaving a hint of the mother of pearl inside, plus, they give a nice "crunch" when you walk on them and they're substantial enough not to wash away, or erode into the soil.  

I just knew there had to be a way for me to get shells in my garden.  Fortunately, there are lots of places that sell crushed oyster shells.  Unfortunately, they are all in Florida, and though we live only 13 miles from the border, there is a minimum $100 fee for all out of state delivery.  I thought of taking a day trip myself to fill my own truck with a load, but with a toddler, a 5 hr road trip just didn't seem doable.  I needed a local solution.

That's when I remembered Dothan boasts its own oyster shack... Hunt's.

I called and the manager seemed really confused when I asked if they ever gave away their oyster shells.  It took him a minute to realize I wanted the ones that had been shucked and eaten.  I still don't think he really knew what I was asking because he told me to come down any time before 11 a.m. and pick some up.  I showed up and there was still more confusion, "You want the shells?!" "What are y'all gonna do with 'em?"  It was at this point I was informed that if I wanted shells I would need to come back around closing, when the oysters had all been eaten.

It felt a little like a drug deal.  Per my instructions I knocked on the wooden gate in the back. A HUGE black man opened it about an inch and asked what I needed.  "I've come for shells", I said.  He asked me to wait and he shut the gate.  I heard him lock it from the inside.  I waited about three minutes and then a few more guys came to the gate.  "Yeah, that's her,"  I heard one of them say.  Like I said, I  totally felt like I was there to buy an illegal substance.

They thought I was so funny taking their picture.  I told them it was the least they could do for me seeing as how I was taking four of their disgusting barrels off their hands.

Did I mention they dump everything in with the shells when they clean the tables? Dean still cannot believe I was willing to take on this project.  He washed his hands of it the minute he caught a whiff of the barrels.

I think I still need one or two more barrels to fill it in just right, but I think I'll let the "beachy aroma" die down a bit first. (I prefer to use beachy when I describe their scent, a word Dean totally disagrees with.  He just rolled his eyes at me and shut the door tightly when I hollered at him to come look.)

 Don't they look great, though?  I really am so pleased.  The sun should bleach them more and more as they get stepped on.  As an added bonus, I was reading up on gardening in the Southeast and it was mentioned that adding shells or other sharp surfaces to your garden will repel slugs, snails, and other pesky garden critters.

No green stuff yet, but our space has come a long way.  What new ideas are you using in your garden?


  1. I love the shells and the story that goes with them. You need to join Sara's weekly garden journal. I've just started, and I'm adding my own garden projects to it as well. I think each week I'll rate each project's success from the type of chuckle (if I get one) Monte gives. Off to a decent start, Monte saw what I was currently working on and I got the six chuckle with a smile response, that's pretty good, no chuckle is bad, a full laugh is great but I know he thinks I'm crazy. No eye rolling, usually it's just the chuckle, the longer the better, so six is pretty decent.

  2. I'm so envious. Not of the smell mind you, but I'm sure it won't last long. What a cool feeling it will be to have them crush under your feet while you garden. Although I don't think Syrina should try this--not with her barefoot gardening style.