Friday, May 15, 2015

Wisdom from the Pizza Garden

Ashley Bodkins (University of Maryland Faculty Extension Assistant & Master Gardener Coordinator, Garrett County) gave a great presentation yesterday on creating a pizza garden, the latest installment in the series Garrett County Vegetable Gardening Classes and EventsA pizza garden is not the successor to spaghetti growing on trees J; it’s a theme garden based on planting toppings one might want for a pizza (sorry, no pepperoni). The basic idea is to take a circular plot and section it off into six “slices” and then plant something in each section. The typical “ingredients” in a pizza garden are tomatoes, onions, peppers, parsley, basil, and oregano. If you want to build a bigger pizza garden, additional possibilities include garlic, rosemary, and wheat.

Nearly every attendee shared a piece of gardening wisdom:
  • Plant onions close together, and then harvest every other one for spring onions
  • If you want a perfectly developed onion, look for 13 leaves—the larger the leaf, the larger the bulb will be
  • If you have limited space, try a high producing variety of basil such as Pesto Perpetuo (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum)—these columnar plants can grow up to 4 feet tall!
  • If you take steps to protect your parsley over the winter, it will come up the second year (even in Garrett County!).  Otherwise, this biennial is an annual
  • The more you pinch oregano, the bushier it will get
We even had a couple of pieces of wisdom on the additional “ingredients”:
  • Hardneck varieties of garlic produce a false flower stalk called a scape—pick the scapes when they start to curl and then chop them and use them in place of garlic or spring onions (FYI, there are a number of interesting posts on garlic scapes on the blog—just search "scape" in the singular and plural)
  • Most home gardeners are not going to grow, harvest, and process wheat but winter wheat would make an awesome cover crop for the whole pizza garden 
I’m going to twist Ashley’s arm to post a summary of the information she presented on tomato diseases—stay tuned!

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