Have you ever thought about growing a pizza? You may not be able to grow a plant with pizzas ready to pluck from the vines, but you can grow a family friendly garden with pizza ingredients. We like to grill pizza in the summer using ingredients fresh from the garden, letting each person choose toppings for individual pizzas.

If you’re not sure what to plant in your edible garden, one way to decide is to think about what foods you eat the most in the summer and grow ingredients that are in those foods. If you and your family eat a lot of pizza, a pizza garden is in order.

If you have young kids who you want to help grow the pizza garden, one clever idea is to grow it in an old kiddie pool. It’s an easy way for the kids to identify their garden and what they are supposed to take care of.

What can you grow in a pizza garden?

• Tomatoes – If you’re only going to grow one type of tomato for your pizza garden, make it Roma tomatoes. They will work well for making pizza sauce and for chopping roughly as a pizza topping. They are meaty and contain less water than slicing tomato varieties.
• Basil – You’ll use basil in pizza sauces, ripped as a topping for a traditional Margherita pizza, or in pesto that you can use as an alternative pizza sauce like on the photo at left. That pizza has basil pesto as a sauce, fresh chopped garden tomatoes, and additional basil ripped on top, all from my backyard garden.
• Oregano – Oregano is used in most tomato-based pizza sauce recipes.
• Vegetables for toppings – Red, green and yellow peppers, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, and scallions all make delicious, healthy pizza toppings. Grow whatever vegetables your family will want to put on their pizzas.
• Garlic – Garlic usually needs to be planted in the fall for spring/summer picking. If you’re happy with your pizza garden this summer, plant garlic for next year’s pizza garden. In the meantime, head to your local farmers market or farm stand for fresh garlic for this year’s pizzas.
• Onion – Red onions make great pizza toppings and milder, sweeter varieties are great for pizza sauce. Onions are planted early in the season, before you’d plant your tomatoes, herbs and topping vegetables. You’ll need to get them in the ground in March or April, depending on where you live.

Pizza sauce recipes using fresh tomatoes

Homemade Pizza Sauce – You’ve got wiggle room for the amount of ingredients in the simple, traditional sauce.

Roasted Tomato Pizza Sauce – Rough chopped tomatoes are roasted with olive oil, garlic, and oregano while you’re letting the dough rise. The tomatoes aren’t pureed when they come out of the oven; they go on the pizza as-is.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

How to grow your own pizza
A garden that grows ingredients for the freshest, most flavorful homemade pizza.