This year I am starting an herb garden, which is a project that I have been wanting to work on for a long time now. My idea is to grow the herbs out of mason jars so that they are both decorative and mobile. For this project I have chosen to work with basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme. This method could also be adapted to work with any other herbs. Each individual herb is grown out of a separate jar which allows for both accessibility and better climate control for each species.
A major concern with this setup is harboring unwanted bacteria in the water below the herbs. This rots away at the roots and in the best of scenarios will leave you with anemic spindly herbs that are simply no good to be cooked with! The best method that I have found to prevent this is to line the top of the gravel with activated charcoal. (This is also usually available in the pet supply store in bulk.)
I then fill the jars with regular potting soil just up to the lower seam on the jars. This leaves about an inch of air at the top. Finally I add enough water to cover the gravel and charcoal and to just moisten the soil before adding any seeds.
After the soil is thoroughly moist plant the seeds according to the packages. For each jar I made five holes for the seeds and put two to three seeds in each hole. This should be enough to fill the container with the herbs without overcrowding the roots too much. Lastly I secure the lid on the top of the jar to create a makeshift greenhouse. To keep track of what is in each container the label from the seed packets can be secured over the lid and under the retaining ring. It is important to make sure that the seeds remain moist but not wet during this stage, and that they stay in a warm area. Monitoring the jars once a day should be more than enough. Water only as needed.
When the seeds begin to sprout forth the lids can be removed. You can keep the outer rings attached in order to hold the labels if you like. This will not be an option after the herbs really start growing.