I love cooking with fresh herbs. There’s nothing like the smell of chopped basil or the aroma of crushed thyme to get me in the zone to cook. That’s easy enough to do in the summer when my herbs are growing faster than Jack’s magical beanstalk, but since I live in New England, the herb garden is pretty much done by mid-autumn. What’s a cook to do? Bring the garden indoors and grow herbs in Mason jars, that’s what!
Most herbs are naturally easy to grow, and some of my favorites, including basil, thyme, and rosemary can all grow from cuttings. So when you grow herbs in Mason jars, you don’t need to dig up mature plants to do it, nor do you have to start from seeds (unless you want to). There are a couple things to keep in mind before you begin, though.
The easy way to grow herbs in Mason jars and get beautiful plants every time
Aside from adding a tasty depth to your cooking, the great thing about herbs is that anyone can grow them. Lots of sunshine and regular water and almost any herbs will reward you for your efforts. And some herbs, like thyme and mint, seem to flourish no matter how much you ignore them. But if you want to grow herbs in Mason jars (or any glass jars), there are a couple of things to bear in mind.
The biggest problem with glass jars is that there is no way for excess water to drain. So you have to create a miniature environment with good soil drainage so the roots still have enough space to spread out and take in plenty of nutrients from the soil. You could get fancy and drill a drain hole, but I’ve never tried that. I have too many visions of trying to clean up shattered glass for that to seem at all interesting, even though I’ve heard it’s possible.
What I’ve found works well is to grow herbs in Mason jars that are a bit larger-sized. I like the pint and quart sizes, but I’ve certainly used other sized jars. Once you have some jars you like, add an inch or two of small rocks to the bottom. That gives the soil room to drain.
Once the rocks are in place, add in organic potting soil, then plant your seed or your clipping like you normally would. And that brings us to the two rules you need to grow herbs indoors: Keep them in a sunny spot and water them regularly. The more sun, the better. Just don’t let the soil dry out.
And don’t forget, you can decorate the jars with cute little tags or go utilitarian and leave them plain. Either way, they make a nice stylistic statement in your kitchen.
A note about cuttings
Cuttings are an easy way to start a new herb plant, so I like to make life easy and make my cuttings while my herbs are still growing. Simply cut a three or four-inch stem at an angle just below a node (that’s a point where leaves grow). Remove the bottom leaves, and place the cutting in a small jar of water, making sure none of the leaves are submerged.
You’ll start to notice roots possibly within a few days. Once the roots are an inch or two long, you can transplant the herb to a more permanent home.
Do you grow herbs in Mason jars or other similar containers? I’d love to read about your experience in the comments below.