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Grow your own Italian delights

Garden: Tips to help your garden thrive in the SCV

Posted: August 13, 2010 9:46 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

Fresh veggie pizza, spaghetti sauce, and pasta with pesto sauce-sound incredible? You’ll be happy to know that you can grow your own fresh Italian ingredients simply and easily right at home.

For a delicious garden you just need a spot with full sun. Classic Italian ingredients including tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley can be grown in pots or small raised beds.

Here are tips on helping your Italian garden thrive:

Start with the Soil. To help an in-ground garden get off to a strong start, first address the soil. Simply remove any stones or debris from the garden area and add a 4-inch layer of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers and Vegetables or Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Garden Soil, working it into the soil. 

For a container garden, just make sure your pot has a hole for drainage, add a few small stones over the hole, and fill to about 3 inches under the rim with a quality potting soil like Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.

Dig in. Check the instructions on your herbs and veggies for proper spacing. Plant in the early morning, dig a hole twice as wide as your plant’s root ball, gently place your plant in it, then backfill with soil.

What to plant
Tomatoes. To create rich, complex flavors in your tomato sauce, use more than one variety. Consider using both red and yellow tomatoes and remember to use cages or stakes for support.

Peppers. For bell peppers wait until temperatures are over 60 degrees for planting. Pick while green if that is your preference or leave on the vine to ripen into yellow or red peppers for a sweeter flavor.

Onions. Onions should be planted very early in the growing season. Make sure you select a variety best suited to your climate — short-day onions do best in the south while long-day onions thrive in the north.

Garlic. Fragrant, delicious garlic does best when planted in the fall and harvested in the spring and summer. If you can’t wait, you can plant it before the last frost date in your area, but the bulbs will be somewhat smaller.

Herbs. Basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley are very easy to grow. To encourage new foliage, avoid picking more than one-third of the plant at once.

Water and Feed. If you water your garden regularly, feeding about once every two weeks, you’ll be amazed at how beautifully your plants respond. You can combine tasks by using Miracle-Gro Watering Can Singles mixed right into your watering can.

Mulch. Protect in-ground plants by putting down a layer of mulch around them. This will keep weeds from cropping up and will help your garden retain moisture. A two-inch layer should do the trick.

Harvest and Enjoy. Pick your homegrown produce and with these few fresh ingredients, you’ll be able to whip up amazing Italian dishes like pesto, marinara, pizza, and more. 

For more tips and recipes, groyourown.miraclegro.com.

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