If your family loves Italian food, why not plant a pizza garden? It’s simple, inexpensive and will help you add fresh Italian flair to any meal.
For my container pizza garden I chose:
- 1 Super Italian Paste tomato
- 1 Green Bush zucchini (mine came with three seedlings in one pot, and since there wasn’t room for all of them I shared the rest with friends)
- 1 Italian oregano
- 1 Genovese basil
- 1 Italian Pesto basil (Growing Tip:f you’re new to growing a certain type of plant or haven’t had much luck with it in the past, selecting different varieties can improve your chances of success and help you learn which perform best in your area)
- 3 trailing rosemary (Money Saving Tip: Be sure to check the groundcover section of your nursery–you can get more plants for less money and the smaller individual size makes them easier to work with, I plan to plant the other 3 from the six pack I bought in the pot that holds my Eureka lemon tree)
- A large pot and potting soil or clear planting area in your garden that receives at least six full hours of sun per day
- One tomato cage per tomato plant
- A variety of Italian vegetable and herb plants
To plant your pizza garden:
- Clear your planting bed of any rocks and weeds (find container planting instructions and tips here)
- Leaving your plants in their pots, arrange them on the soil to decide where each plant will go–put the tallest plants in the back so they don’t block the sun from reaching the smaller plants
- Dig a hole for each plant slightly wider and deeper than its current pot
- Plant each plant
- Water thouroughly
Be sure to water regularly throughout the season and by late summer, you should have all the makings of the perfect Italian feast.
One simple way to save water, time and sometimes even your plants is with a self-watering container, but commercial versions can cost a ton of money. California gardener Ray Newstead has a solution for that: build your own.
Ray’s innovative EarthTainer(TM) design uses rubber storage bins, a plastic aquatic plant basket, and PVC pipe to create the perfect solution for growing great heirloom tomatoes, but could be used for other vegetables as well.
Visit EarthTainer.Tomatofest.com for complete instructions on how to create your own (he even has videos to help you along).
If you’re not in love with the way the bins out on your patio or in your garden, you can easily camoflage them with other plants.
Compost is garden gold. You start with kitchen scraps and yard clippings, add time and a little turning, and you wind up with gorgeous, nutrient-rich stuff that will help your plants grow strong — all from things that might have otherwise wound up in our ever-growing landfills.
You don’t have to have a huge yard with multiple bins to compost in your own backyard or patio area. Using a few simple items you probably already have on hand, you can make your own compost bin with very little effort.
- 18 gallon plastic storage tub with lid (go for the more rubbery kind if you can, they are easier to work with)
- Knife, drill or awl
You may also want:
- A second lid (if you plan to keep it on a patio)
- Decorative planter feet, bricks or small stones to elevate the bin slightly off the ground
- Outdoor paint or colored duct tape to decorate the outside
1. Mark where you want the holes with a Sharpie marker–holes should be approximately 1/4″ across and 1 1/2 to 2″ apart
2. Punch, cut or drill holes in the top and bottom of the storage bin; make sure the bottom holes are at the lowest part of the bin so it can drain easily
3. Decorate if desired
4. Place the bin in it’s new home–ideally somewhere easy to access, otherwise you are less likely to use it
5. Start composting!
A few other considerations:
- If you have a big yard and a lot of scraps and clippings, consider using a larger tub or even a trash can (plastic or metal will work)
- If you have a lot of wildlife in your neighborhood, consider getting a tub with a locking lid to keep the animals out
- The juice created by the compost can be very acidic, do not place the bin directly on a patio as it could mar the finish
- If you live in an apartment, be sure to check their rules about what you can and cannot have on a patio or balcony, some do not allow storage bins in public sight