All you need for a delicious garden is a plot drenched in sunlight. Classic Italian ingredients such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, plus herbs such as 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 stones or debris from the garden area and add a 4-inch layer of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for flowers and vegetables or Organic Choice garden soil, working it into the ground.
For a container garden, 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.
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. Plant red and yellow tomatoes and remember to use cages or stakes for support.
• Peppers. For bell peppers, wait until temperatures are over 60 degrees before planting. Pick while green if that’s your preference or leave on the vine to ripen into yellow or red peppers for a sweeter flavor.
• Onions. Onions should be planted 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 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.
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 tempting Italian dishes such as pesto, marinara and pizza.
For more tips and recipes, visit www.miraclegro.com.
Miracle Gro products can be purchased at Ace Hardware stores, which can be found in Brentwood at 8900 Brentwood Blvd.; in Oakley at 305 Fifth St.; and in Antioch at 501 Sunset Drive.
– Courtesy of Family Features