How to Grow a Spaghetti-Sauce Themed Garden
Grow a Raised-Bed Theme Garden
Planning a recipe garden is as fun as it is delicious. Let your favorite meals and recipes inspire a custom-designed garden. Why not start by growing your own spaghetti sauce in a 4'x 4' theme garden?
A spaghetti-sauce garden will obviously have tomatoes, but it will also include onions and these herbs: oregano, basil, parsley. Grow garlic chives if you did not plant garlic last fall.
Plan a garden to include as many homegrown ingredients as possible. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables that they grow. You will have your favorite freshly made recipe and perhaps even enough produce to freeze or can a jar or two of salsa or spaghetti sauce.
You will need:
- 2 determinant tomato plants
- 1 sweet pepper
- 1 Italian pepper (optional)
- about 2 or 3 dozen onion sets
- 1 or 2 starter plants each, oregano, parsley, basil
The Real Dirt
First things first. Work organic matter into the soil before you plant. Once your plants are in, don't want to disturb the roots. Prepare the soil before you plant.
→ Your garden soil needs increased water-holding capacity and good drainage.
→ Your tomato plants will withstand the spring's heavy rains and summer's drought.
What to add to your soil: use chopped leaves, wheat straw, shredded newspaper, grass clippings. Or, use leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, crushed eggshells. Used coffee grounds. (Some coffee shops giveaway used coffee grounds.)
And, buy bagged, composted animal manures, sharp sand or builders sand. Canadian sphagnum peat moss, or organic mulch.
Add organic materials now. Work these materials into the soil. You cannot add too much organic matter. Once the tomatoes are planted, disturb the soil as little as possible. Consider adding N, P or K by using blood meal (Nitrogen), bone meal (Phosphorus) and greensand (K potassium).
Keep in Mind: Most plants fail because we try too hard. We over fertilize and over water the vegetable patch. Apply fertilizers only as recommended. Too much fertilizer means big tomato plants, not more tomatoes.
Peppers and tomatoes
2 Determinant Tomato Plants
Stupice (heirloom), Celebrity (hybrid). Determinant tomatoes are a good choice if you don't want to climb a ladder to pick the tomatoes off heavy, tall vines that don't stop growing until frost. For youngsters or seniors, determinant plants are much more manageable.
In a 4x4 garden, you have plenty of room for 2 or 3 full sized indeterminate tomatoes. Or, 2 full size, and 1 cherry tomato. Adding a cherry tomato will give you the earliest ripe tomato.
Plant Roma or paste type tomatoes if you will be making sauce. Planting three tomatoes will not crowd the plants and will decrease the possibility of disease. Serious pasta and pizza gardeners might choose three Roma tomato plants
1 Sweet Pepper and 1 Hot Pepper (Optional)
You have room for two pepper plants. One a sweet bell pepper, your color choice. The other pepper plant can be mildly spicy or hot, your choice.
Sweet bell peppers come in red, orange, yellow, purple and chocolate color, their taste is similar. All may be picked green with mild flavor getting slightly sweeter as it ripens to its full color.
Mildly hot peppers include Ancho or Pablano, Anaheim, California Mild, Corno di Toro Rosso, Cherry Bomb.
Fresh Herbs and Onions
Oregano, Parsley, and Basil: 2 Starter Plants Each
Buy starter plants. Sink 2 pots into the soil in two corners. Plant an oregano in each pot. Oregano is a perennial. You will be able to lift the plants and move to a permanent home.
Plant the two parsley pants in the other two corners. Sweet Curly or Italian flat leaf is your choice. In a blind taste test, there is no difference. This will give herbs the full sun that they need to thrive. You will have easy access to weed and harvest.
Imagine the 4 x 4 square is divided in quarters. Plant 1 tomato into each of 3 quarters. Plant the two pepper plants in the fourth quarter. Space plants so they will have maximum air circulation as they grow.
Plant the basil roughly between the tomato plants and a little closer to the edge. Basil and tomatoes are good companion plants. They will encourage each other to grow.
2 or 3 Dozen Onion Sets
Choose red, yellow or white onions. You have room enough to grow more onions (double) if you want to try a couple of varieties.
Finally, plant the onion sets about 3” from the edge of the garden and about 4” apart. Skip the spaces in front of the basil. You can plant onions closer, if you intend to pull or thin them to every other onion.
Mulch, mulch, mulch the entire 4 x 4 garden. Then apply more mulch later in the summer. Mulch keeps vegetables clean, prevents soil born plant disease, keeps the soil cooler, retains moisture.
Try Something New
Roma / paste
Heinz Super Roma
Renee's Garden Pompeii
Add flower power
Grow More in the Same Space
Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce Recipe (Originally published as "Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce" in Taste of Home)
- Before you plant the spaghetti sauce garden, use the space for an early salad garden. Grow a variety of lettuces and radishes.
- After your tomatoes and peppers are finished for the season, plant turnips, kale, chard. You have plenty of room some more salad greens and radishes.
I am planting a double row of onions on two sides of the raised bed. By the time the tomatoes start getting big, you will have harvested at least half of the onions as scallions or green onions.
Poke a couple nasturtium seed in empty spaces.
Plant 1 or two giant sunflower in the very center of the 4x4 square. They will sore above the tomato plants.
Extra Growing Space
- Plant a pasta garden in a 4' x 4' raised bed
- Peppers, "Corno di Toro Mix" or
- Pepper, Italian Sweet, Organic, "Sunset Mix"
- Choose one of these Italian peppers and plant two plants
- Tomato, "Chianti Rose"
- Tomato, Plum, "Italian Pompeii"
- Fresh Herbs
- Basil, Container, "Italian Cameo"
- Parsley, Organic "Italian Large Leaf"
- Oregano, "Italian Heirloom"
I am planting a spaghetti sauce garden using seed from Renee's Garden.
In the fall, after garden cleanup, work in organic matter and cover bed with grass clippings of shredded leaves. Then, consider planting a few garlic cloves.
Concrete Block Raised Bed
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2014 Patsy Bell Hobson