Wouldn’t it be great if you could just pop into the garden and pick a pizza ready-made off the plant? Sadly, that’s not possible, but it’s easy to grow some or even all of the ingredients to make your own pizza sauce. Spread it on a base, top with some cheese and hey presto, you have yourself a home-grown pizza.
Best tomatoes for sauces
Italian chefs swear by plum tomatoes for pizza sauces, and they should certainly know best! Deep colour, rich sweet flavour, a relatively low water content and few seeds all make plum tomatoes a good choice to grow. Sow seeds indoors in early spring and plant out in late spring once the frosts are over, or buy young seedlings. Here are a few to look for:
- Tomato ‘Romello’ – a bush tomato with good blight resistance, ideal for hanging baskets.
- Tomato ‘Santonio’ – a cordon tomato, best grown in a greenhouse
- Tomato ‘Roma’ – a cordon tomato, almost seedless and excellent for sauces and soups. Grow in a greenhouse or outdoors.
Tip: two cups of chopped fresh tomatoes equals 400g of canned tomatoes.
Tips on growing onions and garlic
Onions and garlic are the basis of every great tomato sauce. Plant garlic sets (small bulbs) in late autumn to late winter and onion sets in early spring in well-drained soil in full sun. Keep them weeded, remove any flower spikes that appear, and water them in dry spells, but stop watering once the bulbs start to swell and leaves start to turn yellow. They should be ready to harvest in summer, once the leaves flop over, and most can be dried and stored for several months.
Tips on growing basil
Basil grows easily from seed and can be sown any time from early spring to mid-summer. Fill small pots with compost, scatter a few basil seeds on top and lightly cover over with compost. Water the pots, cover them with clear plastic bags and place them on a sunny windowsill. Once the seeds germinate, remove the bags. When the seedlings are big enough to handle, pot them on into larger pots. You can grow basil outside in a sheltered sunny spot, or inside on a sunny windowsill. But beware - slugs and snails love basil, so protect pots with copper tape around the rims.
Tips on growing oregano and thyme
These Mediterranean herbs need very similar growing conditions – a well-drained soil and lots of sun. They grow well in pots or in the ground. Give plants a light trim once flowering is over to stop them from getting leggy and encourage the growth of fresh shoots. Both oregano and thyme are hardy but hate sitting in cold wet soil, so put pots on pot feet in winter to avoid compost becoming waterlogged.
If you want to boost your store cupboard with a few fresh ingredients, come and see our great range of plants for the kitchen garden. Our friendly staff are always happy to help!