These four Garden Jars from Modern Sprout, designed to sit on your kitchen counter and grow herbs, arrived at my house in late March, 2014, and I’ve spent the last 6 months tending the plants in hopes of harvesting herbs for dinner.
The jars arrived with seeds, plant food, and soilless growing medium.The seeds included basil, Greek oregano, parsley, and mint (this has since been replaced with cilantro on the company’s website). There was no indication about whether or not the plant food or grow medium was organic. Refills are not currently available from the vendor, but the jars and insert can be reused for the same purpose by obtaining your own seeds and a similar growing medium.
When the Garden Jars arrived, one glass jar was broken due to poor packaging. The insert in which the plant grows, which is called a “net pot,” fit into one of my husband’s beer steins quite nicely, so I used that instead of the broken jar.
The jars resembled oversize canning jars, in different colors (blue, amber, green, and pink). The colors were somewhat off-putting, and I would have preferred plain transparent glass, but that is just an esthetic preference.
Hydroponic Growing System
The Modern Sprout Garden Jars use a type of hydroponic system in which a wick (basically a piece of polypropylene fabric) is placed in water and brings moisture to the plants. The plants are grown in a soilless grow medium that’s held in “pots” made out of netting (net pots) that don’t come in direct contact with the water.
[contextly_sidebar id=”ajDOut5O21iXGjy0NW4TG0zJhDEvUKzD”]Following the directions, I inserted the wicks into the net pots, filled the net pots with grow medium, and sprinkled the seeds on the grow medium. The directions were reasonably straightforward so this part was easy.
However, the kit includes a screw top, such as you would use with a canning jar, but it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. I screwed the tops onto the jars anyway, which anchored down the net pot to the jar, but they were awkward to use, as I discovered when I went to refill the water about a week later. It was difficult to unscrew and I had trouble to not disturb the grow medium. So you can throw away the screw tops.
Keeping the Grow Medium Moist
I live in Arizona, which is a very dry environment, so I put the empty grow medium bags over the top of the jars, as suggested in the directions, to create a more humid environment, until the herbs grew up to 2″ tall. This worked fine; although a little white mold grew on the soil, it did not affect the herbs.
Difficult to Water From Above – The directions suggest that you can refill the water by putting it directly on the grow medium. I found that this disturbed the grow medium too much, and had to lift the net pot out of the jar to refill the water. This was ok, since my finger nails are long enough to get under the lip of the net pot, but if your nails are shorter you’ll need some sort of implement to help you get the net pot out of the jar (a knife would probably work well).
I refilled the water approximately weekly, although this will vary depending on the humidity of your home.
Slow Growth …
The plants seemed to me to grow rather slowly. The instructions suggest that harvest will be ready in 2-3 months. My plants were still quite small on June 30, which was 3 months after planting. They grew leggy after that, and the parsley died. The basil subsequently died after I left it for 10 days while on vacation, as the water dried out faster than I expected (the mint and oregano survived the drought).
Made in USA
The Modern Sprout Garden Jars are made in Chicago.
I give the Modern Sprout Garden Jars a 2-shovel rating. Overall, this product is not an improvement over simply growing herbs in regular soil on the kitchen counter, unless you need plants that require less frequent watering. I was disappointed in the growing time to harvest, and I think that the limited size of the net pot may be the reason for the slow growth to bonsai size herbs. More plant food might solve this issue, as might transplanting the herbs outdoors once they reach a size at which you can handle them without damaging the plants.
Where to Buy
The Garden Jars can be purchased on the Modern Sprout website for $20 each, or $80 for a set of all four (with a free wire basket). Each color jar comes with a different type of herb seed (organic basil, Greek oregano, organic parsley, or cilantro). The price includes free ground shipping on all domestic orders.
You can also buy the Garden Jars on Amazon for the same price. Here’s a link to the Modern Sprout Organic Basil Blue Garden Jar.
And now over to you – Have you tried growing herbs indoors? Did you use soil or a hydroponic system? Let us know in the comments below.
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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank Modern Sprout for giving us a free set of Garden Jars to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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