Growing a Pizza Garden

Pizza is one of those foods that can be as simple or as ornate as you want it.

Many adults reminisce of the days spent in college dorms chowing down frozen pizza. Some of these same adults have had the fortune of visiting the great cities of Europe and coming to bask under the Tuscan sun, a plate of pizza in hand. All roads lead to Rome – at least with pizza – Italy’s most famous dish.

The Italian seaside is lovely this time of the year, but if you’re a little short on cash, there are various ways to transform your garden into a veritable oasis. If this sounds too daunting, then growing a pizza garden is the next best thing – it’ll appeal to both kids and adults. 

Vegetables and herbs to grow in a pizza garden

The symphony of smells coming from the pizza oven – the simmering ham, piquant tomato sauce, and ooey gooey cheese – is enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

A discussion around pizza inevitably centers upon the very ingredients that make it work – or not. Pineapple has always been a controversial topping, anchovies much more so.

Yet, almost everyone can agree on a few essential ingredients that without them, pizza simply isn’t pizza. 

  • Herbs: Basil and oregano are hallmarks in Italian cooking and excellent garnishes for pizza. Many culinary herbs are also conducive to health. Start your herbs indoors in planters or alongside other herbs of the same category in herb garden beds
  • Tomatoes: The world of tomatoes is diverse, and some connoisseurs are particularly picky about their tomatoes. Vego Garden has a large repertoire of heirloom tomatoes, including the Mountain Magic variety, which produces luscious orbs perfect for slicing and baking onto pizza. San Marzano tomatoes (a type of paste tomato), fed on the fertile soil near Mt. Vesuvius outside Naples, are lauded as the best tomatoes for pizza sauce, but due to its rarity, Roma tomatoes are a great alternative.   
  • Greens: Many greens are cool-season crops that will not thrive in the heat of day – not a big deal for those that eschew greens. Other gardeners find that the Rustic Arugula, a wilder variety resistant to bolting, is a reliable perennial.
  • Onions & Garlic: Whether caramelized or baked, onions remain a popular pizza topping, with garlic quickly catching up – many dipping sauces entice patrons with their irresistible, garlicky flavor. 
  • Peppers: Perfect for gardeners with minimal gardening space, Sweet Fresh Bites Peppers offer a sweet compliment to the savory slices of pizza. Sweet banana peppers ripens to a tangy yellow that can be pickled, diced, or eaten raw.  

Planting your pizza garden

1. Select a pizza garden design

Although many pizza gardens are partitioned into circular slices to resemble an actual pizza, any kind of container can be used. A pizza garden can be segmented by a couple of means: by plant type, by colors, and by companion planting.

A typical raised garden bed gives ample space to grow tomatoes, basil, peppers, oregano, and onions. Not only are basil and tomatoes complementary on the plate, but in the garden, they function as companion plants: basil repels pests, promoting a full flush of tomato growth. 

Beginner gardeners can choose between modern garden beds while more ambitious gardeners can display their plants in more complex configurations, lacquered in Vego’s award-winning paint. To evoke the illusion of a DIY pizza table, situate a circular garden bed next to a patio. 

2. Prepare the bed for the pizza garden

Pick a spot in the yard that receives full sun, is well-draining, and has organically rich soil. To avoid overcrowding, you’ll need to space your plants apart in accordance to specific guidelines. Tomatoes, the meat of the dish, should be planted near the center, while peppers can be planted alongside provided that they are spaced at least 8 inches apart. Herbs and onions can be grown on the outskirts. 

Before you begin, it’s recommended that you lightly till the soil to break up clumps and remove any debris – the serrated edges of the Hori Hori knife easily cleaves through hard, lumpy soil. Then, finish off with a top layer of organic matter to promote growth.  

Spacing between various vegetables:

  • Tomato: 18 – 24 inches 
  • Bell pepper: 12 – 15 inches 
  • Onions: 4 – 5 inches
  • Basil, Rosemary, Thyme: 12 – 15 inches
  • Oregano: 9 inches 

3. Maintain your pizza garden

Water the seeds well after planting to ensure that they feel welcomed. And like a good neighbor, regularly patrol the grounds for pests and diseases.

Unfortunately, the coveted San Marzano tomatoes, weaned on the rich soil of the Mediterranean, do not take to harsher climates well, and are rather susceptible to blossom end rot.

Once you spy an insect, remove them and drop them into a soapy admixture; brown or yellow areas on foliage can be clipped off. Basil responds to regular pinching to prevent it from bolting while oregano should be cut back to half – and again after flowering. 

4. Stake tomatoes on trellises

Larger tomato cultivars will benefit from some vertical support, which will also enhance the structure of your surroundings. Trellises will allow intermediate varieties to clamber upwards, maximizing your gardening space. 

5. Add whimsy with berry bushes

If you can spare more space, consider squeezing in berry bushes in shady areas – both raspberries and blackberries will tolerate partial shade. When they ripen in the summer, they can be harvested and incorporated into a medley of flavorful offerings: jam, desserts, and compote. Far sweeter and more flavorful than store-bought produce, berries offset the more rustic palate of vegetables, and also add a touch of whimsy to any edible garden. 

6. Get the kids involved

A pizza garden is a fun and educational way to involve kids and get them to eat their vegetables. Kids will feel a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency after seeing the fruits of their labor. Take this up a notch by having them harvest their own ingredients, make their own tomato sauce, and learn to bake their own pizza. 




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