Although new gardeners may be happy with growing anything in their gardens, seasoned gardeners grow with a purpose. They want to put the vegetables they have raised to specific culinary use. Each vegetable could go into a separate meal like tomatoes in a sauce or carrots for a salad, but what if those home-grown veggies were utilized within one recipe? Welcome to the veggie pizza garden!
Pizza is loved by many in part because it can be built to anyone’s specifications. Basically, you can put anything you want on it, and fresh ingredients make a phenomenal pizza. If you want to enjoy the heavenly tastes of fresh garden vegetables, use them atop a pizza. To appropriately plan a veggie pizza garden, you’ll want to know:
• How to space
• When to grow
• What to grow
Gardeners can use many styles of gardening such as pots or row gardening, but the most efficient use of garden space comes from employing the square foot gardening plant spacing method.
Why Square Foot Gardening?
Square foot gardening saves space and water by eliminating the need for walking rows, in favor of planting in more condensed sections in your garden. Using a square foot style garden watering system will separate your garden into these planting squares which are used to organize your planting. Furthermore, it delivers water directly to where it’s needed so less goes to waste. Square foot gardens can be any size, but for the purpose of growing a veggie pizza garden, we will use a 4-by-4 model.
Photo by GardenInMinutes
Note: If the square foot gardening planting method is new to you, you can learn more about it in this square foot gardening 101 article.
The Veggie Pizza Garden
As mentioned earlier, pizza topping choices are figuratively endless. This garden plan will focus on the five core ingredients for a veggie pizza, and you, as the gardener, can add/replace vegetables as you see fit. Based on the growing needs of plants in a veggie pizza garden, fall and the early spring (after the final frost) will be the ideal times for warmer states. Late spring and summer will be too hot unless in northern colder states. Overall, the key is to grow these plants in an environment where temperatures won’t consistently drop below the mid 40’s and rise above the low 80’s.
What to Grow:
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a primary pizza ingredient. Used as both a base sauce and topping, a fresh garden tomato can elevate your veggie pizza to new heights. Tomato plants are larger, so only one is permissible per square foot, and they can be harvested around 90 days. The good news is one plant produces multiple tomatoes, which you’ll need to create a sauce and topping slices
Onions: Onions, sliced and grilled, are a staple pizza ingredient. They add a light crunch to the toppings along with a juicy, sharp flavor. Nine bulbs can be planted per square foot and are ready to within 90 to 100 days.
Spinach: Spinach adds texture and some dark green color to pizza, making it look and taste delicious. Like onions, nine spinach plants can be planted per square foot, and they can be harvested in 75 days or so. Extra spinach can be used to create a side salad as well, and don’t forget to top it with some extra sliced tomatoes and onions!
Bell Peppers: Both green and red bell peppers are the “belle” of pizza toppings. They are colorful, crunchy, and are best served roasted to a small char on top. They are similar to tomatoes, with only one plant per square foot. They can be harvested within 60 to 90 days, and some fresh raw slices could accompany your side spinach salad or even top a slice. One caveat to bell peppers — leave at least one planting square between them and tomatoes. If planted in too close of a proximity, the pair create a great environment for the Colorado Beetle, which will give you problems.
Basil: An aromatic and beautiful herb, basil brings out the classic Italian flavor in sauce and as a topping. It can be planted two to a square foot and can be trimmed within 50 days of planting. Harvesting leaves from an herb nurtures further growth, and basil can be used in many other recipes in case you gain a surplus. For pizza sauce, cut the basil into small pieces, and for a topping, try enjoying the leaves whole.
Photo by GardenInMinutes
Obviously, you can’t grow cheese, and it’s fairly time-consuming to create your own flour. These things will have to be purchased from your local store, but the sauce and toppings all originate from your very own garden! If you have a 4-by-4 garden, these ingredients only take up five squares. It’s up to you what to do with the remaining 11. You can triple your pizza topping potential or you can add other favorite pizza ingredients like oregano or jalapenos. Regardless, now you have a veggie pizza garden plan to surprise family and friends!