Most kids enjoy pizza, with its combination of meat, vegetables, and cheese on a savory crust. By combining kids' love of pizza and their interest in gardening, you can encourage and teach new skills for growing vegetables. It's possible to grow many of the vegetables and herbs placed on pizzas in a home garden. A pizza garden is a specialty garden with a circular shape to resemble a big pizza. Each section of the garden grows a different pizza vegetable or herb, and the sections look like triangular slices of pizza. For example, you might grow tomatoes in one section, peppers in another section, and herbs such as basil and oregano in another section.
Explore the various plants you might include in your pizza garden. Because tomato sauce forms the foundation of the pizza, growing Roma tomatoes would enable you to make homemade sauce for pizza. If you also wish to have sliced tomatoes on a pizza, grow standard tomatoes, too. Include peppers in a pizza garden. Green peppers are standard pizza ingredients, but you might also grow banana peppers or multi-colored peppers to add to a pizza. If you wish to add onions to a homemade pizza, grow onions in a section of the pizza garden. Popular herbs for a pizza include basil, oregano, marjoram, and parsley. Depending on the size of your pizza garden, you might plant each herb as a separate section, or you could plant two herbs in each section.
After choosing the vegetables for the pizza garden, the next step involves planning the location of the garden. Get children involved in the planning process so they can learn fundamentals about gardening and different needs of plants. For example, vegetable plants need full sunlight and fertile soil, so find a location that fits these requirements. To create an average-size pizza garden, find a planting location that will accommodate a circle with a diameter of about 8 feet. Outline the perimeter of your pizza garden and prepare the soil. Children can assist with soil preparation, digging and turning over the soil to a depth of about 8 to 12 inches. If you find this process difficult, consider using a rototiller to cultivate the soil instead. After working the soil, add a 2-inch layer compost to improve the soil composition. Work the compost into the soil well.
Create the sections for planting. Drive a stake into the soil at the center of the circle to mark the center of the pizza garden. Tie six lengths of twine to the stake. Stretch each length of twine straight out to the perimeter of the circle. Tie each length of twine to another stake and drive the stakes into the soil at the outer perimeter of the circle to create six equal planting sections of the circle. Designate the sections for each plant you wish to grow in the pizza garden.
Show children how to plant the different vegetables in each section. Generally, planting tomato, pepper and herb seedlings provides a head-start in the growing process. Help your young gardeners dig holes large enough to accommodate the roots of the seedlings. Space each plant carefully with about 2 to 3 feet between each plant to allow sufficient growing room. Once planted, teach children about maintaining a garden. Maintenance includes monitoring moisture levels and providing supplementary water if rain does not fall. If weeds poke through the soil between plants, show children how to pull the weeds so they don't interfere with vegetable plant growth.
Watch for vegetable plants to blossom. When you see blossoms on the tomato or pepper plants, explain to children that these blossoms will become tomatoes or peppers over the next few weeks. As the vegetables grow, show children when it's time to pick them to teach kids about harvesting.
After you harvest the vegetables from the garden, use them to make homemade pizza together. Crush the Roma tomatoes and use them to make homemade sauce. Slice the peppers, tomatoes, and onions, and place them on top of the tomato sauce. After adding other toppings and shredded cheese, bake the pizza and eat it together.
Here are helpful resources for planning and implementing a pizza garden:
Written By Ava Rose.