Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Little Green Thumb: Plant a Pizza Garden

Growing a pizza garden is a great way to get children involved in the garden and food preparation. Children can decide what plants they would like to grow and can watch the progress through the season.
 
 
Plants
I find a Square Foot Garden plan works well for a Pizza Garden. The plan below includes favourites like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini as well as a few other vegetables that are good for a salad and some herbs for the sauce. This plan is for a 4 x 4 garden and has 16 plots for plants.   Plan the garden with your children and you can easily swap some of the plants below if you want a different topping. Just remember to plant the taller plants along the North side of your garden and give them supports so that they can grow tall. 
 

Yellow Tomato

Red Tomato

Orange Tomato

Purple Tomato

16 Carrots

White Onion

Scatter Lettuce

9 Green Beans

9 Snap Peas

Red pepper

Yellow pepper

Orange pepper

Scatter Arugula

2 Cucumber

1 Zucchini

4 Basil

2 Oregano

5 Nasturtiu

 

Planting
This time of year, you can still plant your pizza garden, but you will want to put in mature transplants so that they ripen in time. Our local markets still have a good selection of plants in containers, so you can use these for your garden and you will be able to harvest that much sooner. Just remember if transplanting during a hot weather week, better to plant later in the day and be sure to water really well.

The pizza
Children love any excuse to play with dough, so a pizza is a really fun activity.
 
 
Sauce
Children can pick the tomatoes, basil and oregano from the garden to make the sauce. Encourage your child to enjoy the sensory experience of rubbing the herbs through their fingers and testing the different smells, very quickly they will recognize the different herbs. Once you have gathered the ingredients, simply add the tomatoes to a pot with some basil, and with parent supervision stir the sauce. This is a very simple and tasty base for the pizza. If you want to strain the sauce, you can pass it through a sieve to remove the seeds and skins.
 
Dough
If you make this dough 24 hours in advance, it can sit in the refrigerator and will be much easier to work with because the gluten is relaxed and it is easy to roll.
 
 For the dough you will need
·        1-1/4 cups warm water
·        2 tsp instant dry yeast
·        1/2 tsp sugar
·        1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
·        1 tsp salt
·        3 cups all purpose flour
 
In bowl, combine yeast, sugar and water. Let this mixture sit for 5minutes until the yeast begins to bubble. Next add the olive oil and stir. In a measuring cup, combine 2 cups of the flour and salt and add this to the liquids and stir until the dough is sticky and forms a ball.
Next turn the dough onto lightly floured surface; gradually add remaining flour as you knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.   Children love to knead the dough and will have a great time helping with kneading, just making shapes with the floured dough.
Place in greased bowl, turning to grease all over. At this stage you can either go with a fast rise, or the best option, an overnight rise. 
 
Fast Rising Method: Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Overnight Rise Method: Once the dough is made, put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours. The dough is much easier to roll out if you let it rise slowly in the refrigerator. (You can also freeze in plastic bag for up to 1 month; to thaw let it rise in refrigerator overnight.)
 
Toppings
Bring a basket out into the garden and your child can pick what they want to put on their pizza. Once back in the kitchen, cut up the vegetables and place each topping in a bowl so that children can choose their toppings.
 
Roll the dough, add the sauce and toppings , cook and enjoy!
 
 
If you are looking for more activities like this one, Sharon Lovejoy’sRoots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots,has a great pizza garden plan and many more fun ideas for gardening with children.
 
 
 
Deirdre Evans is founder of www.urbangardener.ca, a garden coach and  mother to two young boys. Deirdre helps people grow fresher, healthier, tastier food in urban garden boxes here in HRM.