Pea shoots grown in a mason jar on the windowsill. Credit: Courtesy of Rob and Jen McGuinness

Making the most of your windowsill growing space is a wonderful way to add fresh flavors to your home cooking. You may already have a windowsill herb garden, but what about windowsill pea shoots? Growing these scrumptious, nutritious sprouts is easy to do on your windowsill — and in a mason jar, no less. The following is an excerpt from “Micro Food Gardening” by Jen McGuinness, available wherever books are sold on April 6, 2021.

Growing pea shoots (Pisum sativum) in mason jars is a great way to maximize your growing space on your window ledge. I like to grow mine on the window ledge above my kitchen sink. As the pea shoots grow, you can snip them with scissors and add to your salads or stir-fry meals. You’ll get about three rounds of cuttings before needing to switch to a new set of seeds. If you are using a lot of pea shoots in your meals, you can sow pea seeds every five to seven days to provide a continuous supply.

Of course, I like to add drainage holes to my mason jars, so when I water, the extra liquid can drain quickly. You can opt to skip this step (and I give the directions for how to drill into glass jars below), but you will need to keep an eye on the water level that collects at the bottom of the jar.

What you’ll need

— 16-ounce (475 ml) wide-mouth mason jar

— Small stones, such as pea gravel

— Potting soil

— Pea seeds

— If not drilling drainage holes:

— Charcoal

— If drilling a drainage hole:

— Safety glasses

— Power drill

— ½-inch (12.7 mm) diamond drill bit

— Towel

— Tape (masking or blue painter’s tape)

— Watering can with cold water

The steps

To drill drainage holes into mason jars:

Preparing a mason jar to grow windowsill pea shoots. Credit: Courtesy of Rob and Jen McGuinness
  1. Put on your safety glasses. Lay your towel on the table and place the mason jar on top, upside down. Place a small piece of masking or painter’s tape at the bottom where you want to drill your hole for drainage.
  2. Position your drill at a 45-degree angle and on a slow speed, begin to mark the tape on the glass. You’ll only want to scratch the glass at this point in order to give the drill bit something to catch as you continue to drill.
  3. Once your glass is scratched, remove the tape. On the lowest setting for your hand drill, position your drill at a 45-degree angle and continue to drill. Stop periodically as you drill to add cold water to the spot where you are drilling the hole. This is to prevent the glass from overheating and cracking.
  4. As you continue to (slowly) drill, move your hand so you gradually move from a 45-degree angle to a 90-degree angle. Continue to stop and add water to the surface as needed and drill at slow speed. Do not push into the mason jar as you drill. The extra force could crack it when the drill makes the final cut for the hole.
  5. Once the hole is created in the glass, carefully remove your drill bit from the hole by reversing the direction of the drill bit and slowly running it until it is removed. Use a piece of tape to remove any loose shards of glass from the hole.

Steps for planting the pea seeds:

Pea shoots grown in a mason jar on the windowsill. Credit: Courtesy of Rob and Jen McGuinness
  1. Fill your mason jar with a thin level of small stones (about ½ inch [1.5 cm]).
  2. If you are working with mason jars that do not have a drainage hole, add a ½-inch (1.5 cm) layer of charcoal on top of the stones. This extra layer of drainage helps in preventing root rot. (If your mason jar has drainage, you can skip this step.)
  3. Add your potting soil to the jar, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) free from the top. Sow your pea seeds

How to harvest your pea shoots

For one-time use, when the pea shoots have reached between 3 and 4 inches (7.5–10 cm) tall, you can harvest them by cutting them at the soil line.

For multiple harvests (up to three), leave about ½ inch (1.5 cm) of growth (above the first two leaves, or cotyledons) so the plant can regrow.

This excerpt may have been edited for clarity and length.