Hydroponics has been having its time in the spotlight in terms of gardening methods for the last few years. It seems that everyone who grows plants, fruits or vegetables has either utilized the method or is interested in trying it out.
So, you may be asking yourself, what exactly does the term “hydroponics” mean and what is the process?
Simply put, hydroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil. It utilizes only water, nutrients and a medium on which to grow the plants. The word itself means exactly what the process is. “Hydro” means water and “ponics” comes from the root word “ponos,” which means labor.
Hydroponics have been utilized as a growing technique for centuries and has continued to be a great option for farmers and novice gardeners alike!
But, what do you do if you don’t have space for a huge hydroponic system in your home? Use mason jars! People have been using mason jars as a space-saving, hydroponic alternative for years. It’s a fairly easy process to get started.
In this article, I will be highlighting how to grow your garden in mason jars using the hydroponic method and the benefits as well as what veggies (and fruits) are the best for indoor gardens!
Hydroponics In Mason Jars
Mason jars are an inexpensive alternative to the pricier hydroponic systems on the market. Plus, they take up significantly less space and therefor can be placed almost anywhere that is convenient for you.
It’s a simple process to get started and can be done in a few easy steps.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to gather all of your materials you’ll need to successfully create your garden.
You’ll need a few things such as a mason jar, three-inch net pots, rockwool cubes, hydroponic nutrients, tin foil, hydroton pebbles, and seeds for whichever produce you wish to grow.
Next, you’ll need to begin the germination process for your seedlings. They will need to germinate for about two weeks before they able to be planted in your mason jars. This is where your rockwool cubes will come in.
You must soak the cubes in water then place them in a container filled halfway with more water. Then you can plant two seeds in each cube and let them sit in a sunny window. Make sure to water them daily!
After the germination process is complete, the roots of the plant should be sprouting out of the bottom of the cubes, at which point you can transfer them to the mason jar along with the hydroponic nutrients, after washing the mason jars thoroughly.
Then you will place the three-inch net pot in the jar and screw the metal top on to secure the net in place. Fill the jar about ¼ of the way up with water and mix it with the nutrients.
Add your sprouting seedling and pull the roots through the net so that they are dangling in the water. At this point you will add the hydroton pebbles, fill the net cup up without covering the growth of the plant and wrap tin foil around the jar, being sure that no light can penetrate through.
After all of the previous steps are complete, you can place that baby in a sunny spot, water it about once a week and make sure the water levels remain the same to submerge the roots! That’s it. Simple, right?
The last step is reaping the benefits of your mason jar hydroponic system. Harvesting the produce is relatively easy.
There are plenty of online resources to help you get your own mason jar hydroponic system started! Check here for our article on growing an indoor herb garden using a system called the Kratky method. We also have a guide on what the Kratky method is if you want to know the basics., that many people use for their first time trying to grow plants this way.
So, what fruits and vegetables can be grown this way?
Leafy vegetables and herbs are perhaps the easiest and most popular options when it comes to indoor hydroponic gardens. That does not mean that you are limited to lettuce and spinach, however. In fact, there are more veggies and fruits than one would expect that can be grown indoors and without the use of soil.
Lettuce: This is one of the easiest vegetables that can be grown indoors. There are plenty of varieties and they can be harvested continuously as the plant will continue to grow even after you cut some of the leaves off. All you need is a nice sunny window to set them near.
Green onions: Also known as scallions, this vegetable is small enough to be grown indoors. You can start these from seedlings or pick up a bunch from your local grocery store and stick the roots in your hydroponic mason jar.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are another great option that can be harvested year-round with the hydroponic technique. They are a vine-growing plant, so they require little space, as they grow up instead of out!
Blueberries: This fruit requires a very specific soil condition to grow so they are much easier to handle if they are grown hydroponically. You can easily control the PH and nutrient levels in your mason jar garden.
Strawberries: Strawberries love wet conditions which makes them an ideal candidate to be grown in a hydroponic garden. These are great to have year-round!
Basil: Herbs are one of the most popular options for indoor gardens because they require the least maintenance and usually produce the best crops. Basil is great to have on hand for all of the meals you prepare throughout the year or to jazz up a cocktail!
Of course, these are not the only fruits and vegetables that can be grown indoors using mason jars. There are numerous options and you can tailor your garden to your liking! The best part of growing these particular vegetables and fruit this way is that they can all be done year round. Seasons are not an issue!
What are the benefits of using hydroponics?
Growing your garden indoors using mason jars and doing it hydroponically has plenty of benefits other than saving you space!
One of the benefits of hydroponics is that you can grow plants and fresh produce in places that are non-arable and that have little to no soil, as mentioned before. This has been proven successful in plenty of instances, including the space program.
Another benefit, and perhaps the biggest, is that by using hydroponics to grow plants, it conserves a great deal of water.
When you grow plants in soil, you must know exactly how much water to give to each specific plant. Too much or too little can greatly affect the outcome of your growing process. Hydroponics can help rectify this issue in a few different ways.
- It has oxygenated nutrient reserves: Oxygen levels are much easier to control, ensuring that your plants get the right amount consistently.
- Total control during the growing process: Perhaps the biggest benefit of the process is that you have complete control over the environment in which your plants are growing. Bugs and other pests have a harder time accessing your plants and any soil related issues are off the table.
- Saves water: The process uses way less water than traditional growing techniques. Water can be recirculated for additional uses.
As you can see, the benefits of hydroponics are immense. However, many of us do not have large outdoor or indoor spaces where we can easily grow produce and plants this way. That’s where the use of mason jars come in!
As highlighted in this article, there are plenty of ways you can utilize mason jars for your indoor, hydroponic garden. By following the simple steps that I have laid out for you previously, you can have your very own garden set up in no time!
The best part is that you don’t have to be limited to produce that’s only available and fresh at certain times of the year. You can have fresh, easily accessible fruits and vegetables year-round that you grow yourself.
This is a great way to hone your gardening skills without all the fuss of traditional gardening methods. No soil equals no mess and it can be a money saver as well since you’ll be buying less from your local grocery store!
It’s also a great way to support the environment by sustainably growing your own food and reusing water via the hydroponic method. Not to mention that you can use the mason jars over and over again as a growing medium as they can be washed. Another great benefit for our environment!
Have you tried a hydroponic garden? Have you had experience using mason jars as a growing medium? I would love to hear your thoughts or stories on your own experiences with growing vegetables and fruits inside your home!
I would also enjoy seeing what other fruits and vegetables you have had success with! Leave your comments down below and happy gardening!