Mason jar history

The Mason jar is a brand of glass, home preserving containers that was invented by John Landis Mason in 1858. When the patent expired, a number of other glass companies jumped on the bandwagon and started producing their own knock-offs. However, the name Mason jar stuck, no matter what name is embossed on the containers. All of the jars have molded screw rings that use metal lids to seal the contents in. The jars are tough, durable and even attractive, so they have worked their way into daily life. Even those households that would never consider preserving produce, probably have a few sitting around.

Mason jar gardens are cute and popular

Pretty little herb gardens planted in Mason jars seem to be popping up on craft and idea sites all over the internet. And they do look lovely all lined up in a sunny window, however there is more to it than popping a few seeds in a dirt-filled jar. Most of these images are taken before doom and gloom ultimately sets in. Understanding what a plant needs and how to regulate water is vital to your success. Proper care and feeding in a container without a drain hole is different than a conventional container with drainage. Herbs that do well in these gardens are basil, cilantro, chives, parsley, thyme and mints.

Mason jar herb gardens with potting mix

There are two ways to have a garden in a glass jar. The first one is with the familiar potting soil for the roots. The only problem is, the soil will soon sour and mold if there is more moisture than the plant needs. Fill your jar with a couple inches of fine gravel before adding the potting mix. If you are using transplants, leave a few of inches space to have room for the transplant. Gently place the transplant in the jar and finish filling the container. Water sparingly, however do make sure that the potting mix doesn't dry out. Water should not stand for more than a day or so in the gravel layer, so frequent, small waterings is better than a heavy one every now and then. The soil shouldn't stay soggy, or roots will rot and fungus gnats show up. Using an organic, sterile potting mix should help, however too much moisture will still cause trouble. A light sprinkling of ground cinnamon on the soil every week will help prevent fungal growth. Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde which is a natural fungicide and is safe to use around edible plants, and it smells nice too. Place your Mason jar garden in a sunny window, or give it fluorescent or LED light for at least eight hours every day. Many people simply mount a light bar under their cabinets to keep their herb garden near the cooking area. Fertilize with an all-purpose granular fertilizer, or fish emulsion, dissolved in water and diluted to ¼ strength every two weeks. Pinch and trim you herbs often to encourage branching. After all, the purpose of the indoor herb garden is to use it.

hydroponics with mason jars

Grow an hydroponic herb garden in a Mason jar

The second way to grow an herb garden in a Mason jar is to do so hydroponically. This method isn't as expensive or difficult as many believe. With a little preparation and the right plants this garden can be very successful. Preparing the Mason jars is the first thing you need to do. The jars should either be painted, or enclosed in something light-tight to prevent algae from forming in the water. Sunlight on the water will have it turning green in no time. Many people paint their jars with chalk paint and use the blank space for a pretty label. Some people place a small sticker on the jar before painting at the correct level that they can remove to see if water should be added. Others place their jars in decorative cardboard or fabric sleeves. You will need what is called a net pot, or you can make your own by cutting narrow slits around a cottage cheese or yogurt container. Even plastic beverage cups with small holes pinched all over them are fine. The container needs to fit just into the neck of the Mason jar so that the lip of the container is held when the metal ring is screwed on the neck. Trim or cut tabs to make it fit. You will also need rock wool cubes or Jiffy seed starting pellets if you are growing from seed and either perlite or hydroton pellets to hold the plants stable in the pot. It is also recommended to purchase liquid hydroponic nutrients to add to the water. Either plant your seeds in the growing medium, or carefully wash the soil from the roots of your transplants. Situate both in the pot and carefully fill with the perlite or hydroton pebbles. Carefully fill your jar with filtered water so that the bottom part of your container sits about ¼ to ½ inch in the liquid. This is where you need to have a method in place to monitor the water level. Place it in a sunny spot, or under lights and add water to maintain as needed.

Extend the season with Mason jar gardens

Mason jar herb gardens are an attractive way to extend the season and there's nothing better than fresh herbs in a recipe. They do need specific care to be successful, however it isn't really all that hard once you learn what they need. The Mason jar herb garden is a great way to add life and flavor to your kitchen and will make those long winter days brighter.