Scotch Broom and Rotten Eggs

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Wax On, Wax Off, Eventually

Having just spent much of the day buried in my dishwasher, laboriously removing wax (a long story, involving canning jars that once held candles…), I am very happy to discuss something new. However, if such a thing should happen to you, know that a hair dryer will prove most useful, as will old newspapers (very absorbent of wax).

Gardening With Rotten Eggs

Deer, as always, are nibbling away at my garden on an hourly basis. Recently, a friend told me she had achieved amazing success in keeping browsing deer at bay. Every day, she blends three eggs in a gallon of water and sprays it on her plants. For once, the deer stay away in droves.

I decided to try it myself and quickly realized why this works so well. Even in cool spring weather, eggs start to smell pretty disgusting after a few days. After some initial experimenting, I settled on using eggs only on outlying plants in areas where we don’t spend a lot of time. I also decided NOT to use rotten eggs on roses, lilacs, and other sweet-smelling plants.

Why? Call me a fusspot, but roses that smell like sulfur are just not appealing. However! Does it work? So far, it sure does. My front garden is relatively untouched and shrubs I planted this month still have leaves and stems! Wow!

How Often?

In spring, frequent egg spraying is a great idea, since tender new growth is appearing constantly. Also, when it rains, the egg spray needs to be replaced right away. You won’t need to spray daily in high summer; weekly seems to be enough. However, remember that in high summer, the eggs will also smell high, so keep them away from your favorite spots.
If your eggshells take too long to break down in compost, you can put them in the worm bin if well crushed. Despite rumors to the contrary, slugs and snails are not in the least bit deterred by crushed egg shells and they look totally tacky in the garden.

Sweeping Scotch Broom Away

All around the Northwest, Scotch broom has been gaining ground over the past few years. It’s wise to cut or pull it when it is in bloom,  before it has a chance to set seed. Indeed, I prefer to remove Scotch broom in winter. The ground is soft, the roots come up easily, and the sneeze-promoting blooms aren’t open.

However, please don’t feel you need to wait until next winter to attack. As an allergy sufferer, Scotch broom is high on my list of weeds to eradicate any time, any where.

A Whack Attack

The good news is that Scotch broom is relatively easy to defeat, at least temporarily. Young broom plants can often be pulled out roots and all. They can also be weed-whacked, which is usually lethal in summer. This doesn’t always work in spring, when growth hormones are rampant in plants. At other times of year, one low whack is usually enough to off a youngster broom.

Older broom plants can be fatally cut back with a machete or brush cutter. When stubbed back or pruned to within a few inches of the ground, old growth Scotch broom is done for at any season.

Seed Casting Spreads Weeds

Whacking or pulling gets rid of broom for a while, but vigilance is still important. Scotch broom casts its seed far and wide–you can hear the seedpods crack open on hot summer days. When ripe, the split seedpods roll themselves up in little coils, sending the seeds amazingly long distances from Mama. Sometimes you’ll even get beaned as seeds go whizzing past your ears in late summer.

To keep the seeds from sprouting, spread 2-4 inches of coarse bark or any kind of mulch where ever you remove Scotch broom. Without light and air, the seeds will lie dormant instead of sprouting come spring. (Most weeds produce “seeds of disturbance” which germinate best when exposed to light and air.)

Burn, Baby Burn

If you attack Scotch broom now, please remember that, thanks to its volatile oils, broom can self-ignite when piled up (usually in July and August). If you have a shredder, finely shred your Scotch broom and blend it half-and-half with chopped ivy for fast and valuable compost (the best revenge).

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11 Responses to Scotch Broom and Rotten Eggs

  1. julie eagan says:

    I live in Mass. were broom is not a weed and have a couple of plants in some gardens. My question is if it is a plant you want (they have been in the gardens for years and I have seen no spreading) how is the best way to cut back all the dead so it will bush out?
    Thank you

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Julie,

      Brooms can be lightly trimmed back pretty much any time and should rebound quickly. If you cut back hard, into old wood, leaving little or no green foliage, it may kill an older plant, but youngsters usually rebound, especially in spring. Start by removing any deadwood, then trim back winter-burned areas lightly, leaving as much green as you can. It may take a month or more before new shoots appear, but you can help by spreading a few inches of mature compost around the dripline and by offering some liquid kelp (use a tablespoon of concentrate to a gallon of water). Hope that helps!


  2. Erica says:

    Thanks for the warning about volatile oils in Scotch broom! I’ll be more careful about what we do after whacking down the broom.

  3. Robin says:

    Would rotten eggs deter squirrels? The dear have not encroached (yet), but the squirrels are driving me nuts. Thanks!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Robin,

      I’m not sure how squirrels feel about eggs, but they seem to dislike ground pepper, and I get huge boxes of it at Costco and sprinkle it all over the ground after planting bulbs and new starts. That definitely helps.


  4. Nancy Foster says:

    I am finally pullng up instead of mowing our scotch broom. Mowing did not eradicate it. I would prefer to shred and compost it rather than take it to the dumps. I am worried about the volatile oils. I have lots of fur trees so I plan to stack the pulled broom away from any other vegetation for protection. How long do the volatile oils stay active? Are they more lightly to ignite in a composted pile than loosely stacked in tack as a whole plant? If pulling in winter, I’ll save chipping for dry weather next year. I have some of your books and am grateful for your info and charts for the Northwest as I live in Gig Harbor. Any other comments on scotch broom and safe eradication would be greatly appreciated.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi Nancy,

      You can cover your Scotch broom with tarps to speed the breakdown and also keep the seeds from shooting all over the place. It’s best to chip it green, preferably before the seeds have ripened, again to avoid spreading the seeds around. High summer (August) is the worst time to pull plants and winter is the very best!

      Good luck!


  5. Renée says:

    Reading this in 2020 to see what to do with all the broom on our new property, thank you – invaluable advice, and a hearty guffaw at “…blend it half-and-half with chopped ivy for fast and valuable compost (the best revenge).”

  6. John Gilman says:

    Hiya – Wondering what brand/style of shredder you would recommend for “finely shredding” Scotch Broom/ I have pretty heavy duty chipper that I use on the property but it just pulls most of the plant through. Though it does I nice job on the woody trunks.

    Thanks for your response.


    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Hi John, great question. Some people find an apple shredder (used to mke cider) to be the best tool for shredding wet or dry leaves, others prefer to use a lawn mover. Hand shredders must be very sharp to do the trick, and unless the cutting blade is set pretty tight, leaves can clump and pas through uncut, as you noted. Electric shredders vary in their ability to handle softer material so I suggest checking online to find current gardeners’ recommendations for any model you consider buying.

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