Themed herb gardens are a fun way to plan and plant your herbs. What better way to get the kids involved, than to plant a garden that is useful in making their favorite food; Pizza?
Growing a pizza garden is actually a combination of herbs that taste great in any Italian recipe. This fact is an added bonus to any herb gardener, but you don't have to share that with your little helpers. Let them think it is specifically for their pizza's and they will be more than willing to lend a hand.
In no particular order, here are 5 herbs that make a wonderful Italian herb mix that rivals the best restaurant.
Thyme is one of those herbs that you may not realize is in a mix, but you certainly would miss it, if it were left out.
Thyme grows so well indoors and out, it should be included in any garden, but a pizza garden would be lacking without it in any situation. I prefer to plant a few types of thyme, to vary my flavorings, but plan in replacing the plants every 3 years or so, due to them becoming too woody and not growing enough leaves to make their care worth it.
I would be negligent if I didn't remind any potential pizza gardeners, that thyme makes a fragrant fill between the rocks of a walkway. I like to tuck single plants into nooks and crannies of my rock gardens as well. You can never have too much in my opinion.
Organno is that classic scent htat brings to mind pizzas and meatballs and tomato dishes galore. I love to grow it, since the children can nibble on leaves as we walk through the gardens, and they instantly make the connection between the work we have to do and the end results: Pizza!!
Oregano needs to be pinched back (cut back) ferociously, as it begins to grow wildly during the summer months. I find that it goes to flower pretty quickly if left to grow as tall as it wants. Once it does flower, the butterflies flock to it, but the taste fades to nothing-even having a bitter note to the leaves.
Try growing enough oregano for all your Italian dishes, and a few extra plants that you can allow to go to bloom for the beneficial insects. If your oregano goes to flower before you are ready, cut it back hard and apply a weak fertilizer, you may find that it starts growing all over again.
I have a confession. Sweet marjoram has a coveted place in my herb garden. It actually replaces oregano for me in all my Italian dishes, for the depth of flavor it brings. Think of it as oregano in 3D.
Sweet and utterly flavorful, sweet marjoram is the king of the pizza themed herb garden. I love how the leaves remain juicy and heady, in the heat of the summer. It never grows woody and grows like wildfire indoors and out. If I had to pick one herb that is a must have, then sweet marjoram is my herb.
Chives seem to get the shaft when talking about useful herbs. They are so much more than a pretty topping for your baked potato however. I like chives in any way, but for your pizza garden, you could choose the traditional onion chive, or the more robust Garlic chive.
Garlic chives are like onions and garlic got married! Why not grow this super easy herb along the borders of your herb garden, cutting them back numerous times all season long. I store my cut chive leaves in a freezer bag, and throw them right into the freezer in bunches. The, when I make pizza (a weekly tradition in my house), I simply grab a small handful of froze chives and snip them into small pieces right onto the pizza. Perfectly easy!
The quintessential Italian herb, basil is fast to grow and fast to come back after you trim what you need. I prefer to grow the sweet basil, but there are numerous varieties to choose from. Once you harvest you basil, try using the larger leaves as wraps for appetizers, as a layer on a fresh tomato and mozzarella sandwich, and of course, on your pizza.
Don't worry if you seem to be overrun with your basil harvest. Simply blend up any extra basil with enough olive oil to make a slurry. Then pour this into ice cube trays and freeze. You then have a nice, fresh cube of lovely basil to add at the end of any Italian flavored dish.