Looking to sew a bountiful spring garden? Start with a massive seafood boil. Stay with us, this will make sense, we promise. According to a piece published today by the Washington Post, crustacean shells are great for dirt. They’re a fantastic source of nitrogen and they also encourage the growth of good bacteria and fungi, which feed on their chitin. But that’s not all! The calcium carbonate in the shells is amazing for plant health and can help balance out the pH levels in overly acidic soil. While thin crab, shrimp and lobster shells are great because they break down fairly rapidly, mollusk shells like oyster and clams are also chockfull of calcium and good for the dirt, but will decompose at a slower rate.
Though you can simply add shellfish meal to the soil, the best option is to chop up whole shells and mix them into the dirt, letting them do their good work for a month or so. Now do you see where the shellfish feast comes in? Stockpile a slew of nutrient-packed shells by making these delicious, crowd-pleasing recipes:
Ultimate Oven Clambake
Can’t escape to the seaside for an authentic clambake? This one recreates the briny flavors using a cast-iron casserole, kombu, charred wood chips and a hefty rock.
Shrimp Boil Hobo Packs
A classic Southern shrimp boil involves cooking a kettle of shrimp, corn and sausage with pickling spices, notably bay leaf, cloves and mustard seed. Here, all the ingredients are tucked inside foil packets, seasoned with Old Bay and cooked right on the grill.
In a classic New England clambake, lobsters, clams, corn and potatoes cook in a rock-lined pit. Smoke and steam from hardwood coals and seaweed create incredible briny, sweet-smoky flavors.
We've given this Southern tradition a double dose of cloves and bay leaves, adding the whole spices to the ground ones already in the Old Bay Seasoning. The result is a deliciously spicy mound of shrimp, potatoes, and onion.