Grow a Pizza Garden
By Maria Price
Everybody loves pizza, especially kids. And what better way to engage your kids in the world of gardening by growing their favorite food? A fun thing to do with kids is to plan and grow a pizza garden. Add to the fun by planning it in the shape of a giant pizza.
Imagine a 6-foot-wide pizza cut into jumbo slices, outlined with a thick rock crust or a border of bricks and overflowing with your favorite toppings. Select a flat 10-by-10-foot area and poke a stake in the very middle. Loosely tie the end of the string, stretch it out to full length, and walk in a circle. You can follow behind with a hoe to mark the circle.
Have the kids choose what toppings they would like and then grow them from seed or plant starts. Prepare your pizza bed by removing any weeds or grass. Add about 2 inches of aged compost and work it into the soil. Make small footpaths between the slices of your pizza garden.
Plant your different plants in the slices. I suggest three seedlings of plum tomatoes, six seedlings of cherry tomatoes, one seedling of a small eggplant like Little Fingers, three seedlings of bell peppers in three different colors, one seedling of zucchini, one seedling of rosemary, three seedlings of oregano, three seedlings of basil, three seedlings of onions, and three seedlings of garlic. Make sure to use a teepee or tomato cage for the tomato plants.
You’ll be able to nibble on small cherry tomatoes and taste wonderful herbs while you anticipate the final pizza when everything has matured.
On a rainy day, you can make plant markers. Collect flat stones or wooden tongue depressors and a few colors of waterproof acrylic paint for decorating and labeling the plants.
A do-it-yourself pizza party is the grand finale to a summer spent outdoors tending a pizza big enough for a hungry giant. Have the children cut out and color pizza-shaped invitations for your party. Make the sauce and prepare the dough the day before the party. Have baskets ready on the day of the party for each person to pick some of the toppings from the garden. The toppings can be sliced and put in individual bowls.
Give each guest a ball of dough to roll out or spread with the heel of their hand into whatever shape they like onto an aluminum pie pan. Provide a prepared bowl of sauce and mozzarella cheese, then direct guests down the line for sauce, cheese, and all the various toppings. Each pizza can be whatever design or funny face they want to make. Don’t forget to take photos of the kids with their pizza creations.
With a successful garden, you can repeat your pizza party until frost!