Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Gardening >
Feb 17, 2014 07:20 PM

So I want to start an herb garden in my kitchen (moved from Home Cooking)

Living on the bad side of Lake Michigan, we only have roughly 6 months where herbs can grow with any sort of normalcy outdoors. So, I've reserved a section of my countertop for a mason jar herb garden. I know mason jars aren't ideal but it's an easy way to try this theory out and see where it goes. The space will be under two cabinets in a dim corner of the kitchen but it is between one 3 x 2' window and our outside door which has a full window in it so it will get decent light during the day. To help that out, I've purchased a T5 fluorescent , 25W, and placed a layer of mylar under the cabinets. I will keep the fluorescent on the counter, shining up to the mylar which should then reflect it back down onto the plants.

Is this a terrible idea and I'm about to lose $7 worth of starter herbs (yes that is sarcasm)? I have the following herbs at this point:

Thyme (normal)
Italian Basil
Flat parsley, but this is just a bunch with the stems in water
Cilantro, same as parsley, just a bunch from the store with stems in water

I change out the water for the cilantro and parsley every few days. I'm finding it hard to not leave standing water in the bottoms of the other jars, but still maintain a moist soil up top. I'm guessing I need more frequent watering with less overall water at a time. The mason jars are set up with a mulch in the bottom 1", then potting soil and what came with the starter herb above it.

Am I on the right track? Any advice is appreciated, obviously this stuff wouldn't be hard to scrap and start over at this point. At this point I am only using potting soil and water, no plant food of any type.

Thanks for any ideas!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Herbs need really good drainage, they do not like wet feet. I'd be leary of using the jars. I recommend reading the forums on Gardenweb- here's a link to container gardening. There is also a growing under lights forum and an herb forum amongst others.

      3 Replies
      1. re: weezieduzzit

        I agree that there are many better make shift pots than mason jars.

        Styrofoam coffee cups
        Milk cartons
        Clamshell thingys from vegetables

        Any thing you can poke a hole in the bottom of. The right "soil" and drainages is important as light, especially the ones wit& Mediterranean habitats (oregano, thyme, rosemary I think).

        Also when the parsley,cilanto, and basil form roots, think about potting soil or another source of nutrition.

        Also agree with gardenweb!

        1. re: weezieduzzit

          Another alternative is plastic half-gallon milk containers or 2 liter pop bottles. Use a knife or scissors to cut off the top and make a 4 to 6-inch pot. Then poke some holes in the bottom and on the sides near the bottom with an ice pick for drainage. Set on a saucer or put several of them on a plastic tray to catch the excess water.

          1. re: DonShirer

            Here's a link to an article on indoor veggie gardening:


            Don S.

        2. I honestly didn't know there was a Gardening thread and my thought was I was going to use the herbs in home cooking so why not, lol. No worries, we're human and can mess up :) Thanks for the heads up!

          Weezie, thank you for your post as well.


          1. this past summer i was able to grow scallions just from the ends with roots. look it up on youtube - you can get a "continuous cutting" garden of scallions. this might be worth a little realty in your mini-space!

            1 Reply
            1. re: rmarisco

              Already done, green onions are what actually started this whole thing :) Thanks for the heads up though, it's a great little trick and so easy. Just green onions from the store, water and a vase and... well, more green onions!

            2. I'll have to agree on not using mason jars, you won't get the approp drainage. I've got some scallion and cabbage ends in sour cream containers with holes poked in the bottom; also use deli containers, soup containers etc.

              Do also consider sprouts - they work well in a kitchen and only need rinsing a couple of times a day (no soil, minimal light); in 4-7 days you have salad. They're very cheering in winter. :)