Table of Contents
How to Start a Garden in a Mason Jar:
Learn the secrets to planting the perfect glass jar garden with Soltech! This will add beauty to all windowsills, kitchen counters, and everything in between! From herb selection to hydroponics, we have the scoop. Just keep reading to learn more!
1. Pick Your Mason Jar -
The first step of picking a mason jar is finding a shape and size which work for you. The jar will need to be at least four inches deep. You can either buy these fairly inexpensively new, or you can repurpose old sauce or food jars. Make sure you clean them out sufficiently for after you use the contents up.
2. Decide if You Would Like to Decorate Your Mason Jar -
Wash any solids out of your jar with soap and water, and then remove any remaining residue with rubbing alcohol. You especially need to do this if there was any oily substance in or around the jar, as this will repel the paint.
If you want to paint the inside of the jar, just swish the alcohol around inside the jar, then allow it to dry out completely. You’ll use this same method if you choose to paint the inside of the jar, as opposed to the outside.
Find a good primer for your mason jars. This will help the longevity of your paint, which will be beneficial as you continue to grow your garden and repot the plants within your jars.
We recommend using glass paint for the best and most watertight option, as you will of course be gardening in these jars and therefore exposing them to humidity and water. You can also use a multipurpose paint, or spray paint, although these may not provide as consistent of results. Keep in mind, for any paint which requires a brush on application, the type of brush will impact the final look of the jar.
Whether or not you need to use sealant heavily depends on what type of paint you use, so follow the directions accordingly.
3. After Decorating
Afterwards, put a layer of stones on the bottom of the jar. Glass jars have no drainage holes, so a layer of stones will allow the water to settle without causing root rot.
Fill Mason Jar with Sea Glass
This is a beautiful and sustainable option. Sea glass is weathered glass fragments tumbled by the ocean waves. The smooth and polished surface of sea glass allows water to flow freely through the pebble layer, preventing soil from becoming waterlogged and promoting optimal root health. The bright colors and translucent qualities of sea glass lend a captivating visual element to mason jar planters, turning any clear container into a mesmerizing display of color and texture.
4. Preparing the Potting
Creating the best potting mix for a small planter involves combining several key components that provide nutrients, proper drainage, and aeration for the plants. A good mix will include something to provide moisture retention and aeration, such as peat moss or coconut coir. You will also need to enhance drainage and prevent soil compaction, using substances like perlite or vermiculite.
Think ahead and start composting before you begin your garden, so you have access to a steady supply of nutrient rich organic matter if you keep up with compost. Even better, this option will be free, and give you something to do with all those extra food scraps coming out of your kitchen. You can also supplement with manure, or with organic fertilizer.
Depending on your plants, or on the initial state of your soil, you can add other additional supplements to give your garden the ideal conditions. Dolomite lime can be used to balance the pH of soil. If you need to improve the structure of the soil, add worm castings or mycorrhizal fungi to allow for optimal root growth.
Fill the bottom of your jar with gravel or sea glass, to allow for drainage without having holes in the bottom of the jar. Use a ratio of 1:1:1 for the three primary ingredients: peat moss (or coconut coir), perlite (or vermiculite), and compost (or well-rotted manure). This will ensure a well-balanced mix.
If using peat moss, moisten it slightly before adding it to the mix. Coconut coir generally comes in a dehydrated form and should be soaked in water until it expands before using.
Combine the peat moss or coconut coir, perlite or vermiculite, and compost or manure in a large container or wheelbarrow. Mix the ingredients thoroughly until they are evenly distributed.
If desired, add organic amendments such as dolomite lime, worm castings, or mycorrhizal fungi. Follow the package instructions for the recommended quantities.
Add a slow-release organic fertilizer according to the package instructions. This will provide nutrients to your plants over an extended period.
Mix everything together once again to ensure the amendments and fertilizer are well incorporated. Fill your planter with the potting mix, leaving some space at the top to accommodate watering. Gently pat down the mix to eliminate air pockets, but avoid compacting it too tightly.
Remember to choose a potting mix recipe that suits the specific needs of your plants. Some plants may require specific soil compositions or pH levels. With time and experience, you can adjust the mix to best meet the requirements of different plant species.
5. Choosing Your Herbs
One way to determine which plants you should invest in is to take a look at your spice cabinet and see which bottles are running low of the dried variety. You can of course also look at your cookbooks and recipes to tell which you use most frequently in your favorite dishes.
You will not need to grow every variety of an herb, nor do you need to have an extensive collection. Think of what you prefer to include in meals and drinks- that is all you need to grow and tend to.
6. Starting Your Herbs
Now that you have soil, start thinking about exactly how you plan to grow your herbs. Are you thinking you buy sprouted plants, or start from seed? You may also be able to propagate what you need from an existing plant, perhaps from an outdoor garden, or from a fellow gardeners collection.
However you go about starting your garden, remember to plant your desired plants or seeds in the planter, following the appropriate spacing and planting depth guidelines.
Water your plants thoroughly after planting, and monitor their moisture levels to ensure proper hydration.
Starting From Seed Tips
- You may start seeds in trays or pots. Use seed starting mix and fill the seed trays or pots with a seed starting mix. This mix is lighter and fluffier than regular potting soil, providing good drainage and aeration for the seeds.
- Herbs should come with instructions on the seed packet for recommended planting depth and spacing. Generally, herb seeds are sown close to the soil surface and lightly covered with a thin layer of the seed starting mix. Space the seeds according to the recommended distance between plants.
- Watering with a spray bottle to ensure a gentle misting for moisture, without as much risk for overwatering. The water will help settle the seeds into the soil and provide moisture for germination. Be careful not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting.
- Place a transparent plastic cover or plastic wrap over the seed trays to create a greenhouse-like environment. This helps retain moisture and heat, promoting germination. Remove the cover once the seeds have sprouted.
- Place the seed trays in a warm location with ample sunlight, or provide artificial light using fluorescent or LED grow lights. The Grove is a great option for those looking to grow a selection of culinary herbs, which generally require 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Maintain a temperature between 60-75°F (15-24°C) for optimal growth.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water gently using a watering can or spray bottle, ensuring that the soil doesn't become too dry or too wet. Avoid watering the leaves directly to prevent fungal diseases.
- Once the seedlings have grown a few sets of true leaves, they will need more space to grow. Thin out the weaker seedlings, leaving the strongest ones to grow and mature. Follow the recommended spacing guidelines for each herb.
- When the seedlings have developed a strong root system and are about 3-4 inches tall, transplant them into larger pots or containers with well-draining potting soil. This allows them to grow and develop further.
- Provide adequate sunlight, water, and regular fertilization according to the specific needs of each herb. Pinch back the herbs regularly to encourage bushier growth and prevent flowering.
- Once the herbs have grown to a suitable size, you can start harvesting the leaves as needed. Avoid removing more than one-third of the plant's foliage at a time to ensure continued growth.
Of course, there are things to keep in mind for the health of your plants to ensure their continued health.
Maintaining a Healthy Environment
Factor 1. Humidity
The humidity of your space will also affect your herb garden. If you have a large enough collection of herbs, you will be able to create a small micro climate in which they can thrive. However, it is important not to overcrowd them, as the air will need to circulate properly for them to thrive.
If you want to get extra creative, you could find a creative way to incorporate a humidifier into any wall mounted herb gardens. You could also just place it in close proximity to your herb garden. Pebble trays are also a great way to introduce more humidity into the space.
Factor 2. Temperature
Are there breezy vents around your garden in the summer, blasting AC onto tender foliage? Or how about a drafty window during the winter? This is an important detail to keep in mind. If you are permanently fixing your mason jars to your walls, you will need to make sure to plan out which area you will build on very carefully.
Factor 3. Light
However, if you make a palette or frame style mason jar plant wall, you can find multiple locations from which to hang your garden. If you choose this method, however, you will need to choose light sources accordingly, as well.
Luckily, Soltech has a variety of fixtures which will accommodate these needs. The Aspect™ can be moved easily with minimal construction. The Highland™ is also capable of rotating and swiveling when installed using the track lighting system, making it a perfect, convenient and unique system to fit any needs which may shift throughout the year.
Mason Jar Terrariums
Larger mason jars can be used to create tiny terrariums, perfect for any size space. Create your own microclimate in this perfect enclosed space.
Mason Jar Hanging Planters
Decide how you are going to hang your mason jar planter. You may have a fixture, or you may be DIYing your own macrame setup. You could even get chains, to create a unique and edgier look. You can order swag hooks from soltech.com to adhere the setup to the ceiling.
Mason Jar Plant Walls
To make a mason jar plant wall, you must first gather your jars. You may prefer to collect all similar jars, or you may collect a variety to create a unique look. Next, attach sturdy metal or wooden brackets to the wall at desired intervals, ensuring they can support the weight of the jars. Secure the brackets with screws, making sure they are level. Now, fill each mason jar with potting soil and choose suitable plants for the jars—preferably those that thrive in indirect light and have compact root systems. Carefully place each plant into its designated jar, gently patting the soil to secure it. Hang the jars on the brackets, ensuring they are securely fastened. Finally, water the plants as needed, taking care not to overwater. Admire your handiwork as the mason jar plant wall brings life and natural beauty to your living space.
Mason Jar Propagation System
Maybe you already have a mason jar garden, but you're looking for new creative outlets. Well, try building a mason jar propagation station! This is the perfect place to use any smaller mason jars you’ve collected (baby food jars, perhaps?) You can build a beautiful centerpiece style propagation station which will turn heads, and keep your garden abundant. You can especially use this setup if you love giving plants as gifts, since you can create a near endless supply from the collection you have already built!