There are probably a million and one ways to utilize a Mason jar other than their intended use. Stay-at-home moms, gardeners, homesteaders, and hipsters have all found creative and valuable ways to reuse or recycle these amazing jars. Here, we’re going to talk about how you can convert a Mason jar into a simple, easy, and cheap hydroponic system at home. Who doesn’t love yet another recycling hack?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in mediums 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. Or in this case, it is changed out of the jar at regular intervals to ensure the plant is getting everything it needs. This system uses less water than traditional gardening and can be an excellent way for those with limited space to grow their own food.
Traditional hydroponic systems can quickly become expensive and bulky, but using this Mason jar method can make growing hydroponically more accessible for more people.
Other than the fact that Mason jars are affordable and easy to find, they also have a certain aesthetic appeal. A line of jars on a window sill with beautiful green plants growing inside can be an attractive addition to your home decor.
Before you start germinating seeds and portioning out plant food, let’s be sure you have everything you need to have a successful hydroponic experience, and that you know where to find them.
- Quart sized Mason jars
- 3-inch net pots for each Mason jar
- Black paint or fabric covering for jars
- Hydroponic growing cubes
- Clay pebbles
- Hydroponic nutrients
- Desired plant seeds
It’s vital to protect the water within the Mason jar hydroponic system to avoid algae growth. This could make life harder on your baby plant — or even kill it. To do this, you can either spray paint the jars black or use a cover sleeve made of paper or fabric to block the light. The sleeves make it easier to check on the roots without having to pull the plant out.
You have all the tools you need, and your jars are either painted black or have fabric sleeves waiting for them. Now it’s time to set up the system and get to growing!
Step 1: Using the hydroponic growing cubes, plant the seeds you’ve chosen in soil and set them up in a well-lit or artificially lit location. Depending on the type of plant, you now have about four to six weeks to get the rest of your homemade hydroponic system set up.
Step 2: Ensure there is nothing in the Mason jars that could grow or harm the seedlings. Wash and disinfect the jars before use, and rinse off the clay pebbles.
Step 3: Place the net pot into the jar so it hangs from the jar’s mouth, then use the lid ring to secure the pot in place.
Step 4: Portion out your plant food into the water you’ll be using. It’s best to use filtered or reverse osmosis water in hydroponic systems.
Step 5: Add the plant food to the water jug and thoroughly mix it. Read the label to find out what the recommended amount is for that specific brand.
Step 6: Pour the water into the jars and only fill until there’s a bit of water covering the bottom of the net pot. Too much water will make the poor seedlings swim.
Step 7: Add a layer of pebble to the bottom of the net pot, then place the seedling in its growing cube into the net pot and make sure it’s upright and level.
Step 8: Add more pebbles to cover the growing cube. Be gentle and cautious when handling the tender seedling.
Step 9: Place the jar in a sunny spot or under artificial lighting.
Step 10: Add water only when the water line has been down for a few days. Do not add water as soon as the water is no longer touching the net.
Although many plants can be grown hydroponically with this method, smaller and leafy green plants — like lettuces and herbs — will be the easiest and most successful options to try.
It might feel intimidating to jump into growing plants without soil, especially if that’s all you’ve ever known! However, don’t let new terms scare you off and give hydroponics a try. It’s an adorable way to grow healthy leafy greens all year-round, and it can be a fun science experiment for kids. If nothing else, you’ll have some flourishing green plants on your counter or windowsill, infusing your space with a bit of life even on the dullest days.
- Do you live in climate zone 9b? Here’s a helpful guide on what’s best to plant
- If you live in zone 10a, here’s what you need to know about what you can plant
- What is coconut soil, and how can it make your garden better?
- Gardening 101: The difference between blood meal vs. bonemeal
- How to transplant moss—and when you should