Spring has sprung, temperatures are heating up and I have gardening on the brain. I have been dreaming of a garden for years. However, in my mind there were a ton of obstacles that would prevent us from being successful…dogs, pests, pest control, living on a mountain made of rock, heat… Once we started cooking in the wood fired oven, the need for a garden became very apparent, we were going through ingredients so quickly that it was getting expensive. With a little effort we found solutions to all of my obstacles and have a fun, simple garden that we use every week. We are looking to expand and have more variety but for now the essentials are in place.
Most of my obstacles were solved by having a raised bed garden rather than a garden in the ground. Our home is built on the lower slope of a mountain in here in Phoenix, solid rock. There was no way we could plant directly in the ground. Not only is the ground hard, we have a dog which means she might dig up, go to the bathroom on, or eat our delicious treats. Scorpions are a fact of life in our in the desert preserve area where we live, this means we use a pest control company to reduce them and their food sources. For these reasons we felt our garden needed to be not only above the ground so we could fill with soil but actually off the ground to keep the dog and poison out! We looked at several different options but settled on troughs from the local feed store. They provide the protection we need and look cool with their galvanized exteriors.
So what did we plant in these super cool troughs? Our weekly staples are growing like weeds and happy as clams. There are some other plants that we have lost to lack of experience or pesky insects.
At least here in Phoenix, rosemary grows like a weed. In many places it is planted as part of the landscape design. However for us, we have one in a pot and the other in a trough because it have become one of our favorite toppings on olive oil pizzas. I just have to share our most requested pizza: Top your dough with olive oil(no tomato sauce here), mozzarella and parmesan and throw it in you pizza oven. When you have about 30 seconds left to cook, slide it out and sprinkle chopped rosemary on top and put back in the oven until ready to serve. It is so good. Even die hard tomato sauce pizza fans will quietly eat this and then ask for more!
Of course you can’t have a pizza garden without basil…but did you know how many varieties there are?!?! I had no idea. We bought a basil plant at Trader Joe’s and quickly devoured it, so we planted two more. The basil is fabulously delicious but when we had pizza at Pizzeria Bianco on Easter Sunday we discovered that they are using some other variety of basil that has little pointy tips on the leaves. I found a plant at the farmers market and trimmed it as the gentleman told us. It was starting to get established and sprouting a few leaves…and now the cutter bees (or something) have taken them back to the stem. So the jury is still out to determine if it will take off, or if I need to hit that farmer up for another plant.
We love a spicy pizza and peppers are an essential part of spicy food. We planted a Fresno, Serrano and Jalapeño peppers. The plants did very well until there was a hiccup with our irrigation system and they lost their water source. The peppers were very hot and spicy.
This post will be a work in progress as more goodies are added to our garden…and survive! I would love to know what you can’t live without in your pizza garden if you have one, or what you plant after this post inspires you to get out into your own garden. If you love wood fired cooking and great food, please like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram so you know when the latest content is available. Please help me add to my garden by commenting on what you grow in your “pizza garden” below.