I recently learned how to grow herbs in a hydroponic mason jar garden and I absolutely love it. Looking at my herbs growing on my window sill every day brings me such joy!
The herbs have grown so much in barely over a months time. I have tried to grow herbs in regular pots from seed many times with little to no success.
Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil. Hydroponics uses a grow medium such as sand, gravel, clay pebbles, and water. Anything that isn’t soil and allows water to flow through can be used as a hydroponic medium. The nutrients that the plants need are added to the water, which flows through the system.
Kratky Method of Hydroponics
Kratky hydroponics was developed by Bernard Kratky, a researcher at the University of Hawaii in the 1990s. It is a passive hydroponic system and does not require water pumps or electricity. The plants sit on something to hold them up, in this case the net cup which is attached to the container. Then the plant roots are partially submerged in nutrient-rich water without any circulation or added airflow. The rest of the roots are above water where they can get oxygen. This article has more information on the Kratky method.
- Wide-Mouth Pint ( 16 oz mason jar) Jars (Quart jars could be used also)
- Three-inch Net cups – certain yogurt cups may also fit with a drain hole poked in them
- Aluminum Foil to cover the jars
- Clay pebbles
- Rapid Rooter starter plugs – can also use rockwool cubes
- Hydroponic liquid plant food
- Herb seeds
Herbs that I planted
The herbs that I planted were
- Geonevise Basil
- Thai Basil
Simple Steps for Creating the Hydroponic Mason Jar Herb Garden
First thing is to plant the herb seeds in the rapid rooter starter plugs. I had to use a toothpick to make sure to get the seeds in the tiny hole.
I planted several of each herb. My plan is to plant some of the plugs in pots and some directly into the ground. These rapid rooter plugs worked great! I plan to use them more often as they are the easiest way to start seeds with great results.
Once the herb seedlings have grown for a couple weeks, it is time to prepare the mason jars by wrapping them in aluminum foil or painting them with black paint. The purpose is to prevent algae growth. The algae would compete with the roots for the nutrients and oxygen.
Place the net cup into the top of the mason jar. The lid ring can be added to help keep the net cup in place.
Mix the liquid plant food with water following the directions of the type you are using. It is best to use distilled water or some type of bottle water. Fill the mason jar with the nutrient solution up to the bottom of the net cup. Add the clay pellets to the cup and set the rooter plug with the seedling on top of the clay pellets, then add clay pellets around the rooter plug. Add enough water to the container until it is just touching the base of the seedling’s root system. This will ensure the roots can access water and nutrients to continue growing.
Place the herb plants in a sunny location that gets some good direct sunlight or use artificial lighting such as a grow light to provide light for the plants. I placed mine in my sunny window above my sink and as I said earlier, I get a lot of enjoyment watching them grow!
Below are pictures of my fresh herbs at a little over a month from placing then seedlings in the mason jars. The plant growth has been great in a short amount of time.
Below is a picture of the root systems from one of my plants. The roots that are between the cup and the water are getting oxygen for the plant and will continue to do so.
This system can be used to grow other things besides herbs, such as leafy greens, like lettuce and spinach. That will be my next project. It would be a great way to have access to lettuce year round.
This system would also be an excellent way to root plants and change them out when the roots have started. I may plant these herb plants in an actual herb garden and start over with new plants.
I hope you enjoyed this article on how to grow your mason jar hydroponic herb garden! It is an easy way to enjoy some low maintenance indoor gardening. It would also be a fun and educational activity for kids! Plus a great way to be able to have easy access to snip off whatever herbs you need at any time and enjoy the fresh flavor.
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