There’s something satisfying about making food with ingredients you grew yourself. If you need some inspiration for what kind of plants to grow in your garden this summer, picking a specific theme could help give your gardening some direction.
With these themed gardens, you can take the ingredients right from the garden to the kitchen to make flavorful salsa and pizza or add a little extra fresh flavor to your summer drinks.
At this point in the season, you’ll likely want to plant seedlings or young plants from garden centers rather than attempting to start the plants from seeds.
Salsa gardens are perhaps the most popular themed gardens, and are a great way to grow everything you need for delicious fresh salsa.
Tomatoes: When you are at the garden center, look for popular varieties, such as beefsteak, Roma, or cherry tomatoes. These will need full sun for at least 6 hours and will need to be planted with about 2 feet of space between plants. They can also be planted in large containers. Water them every morning.
Jalapeño peppers: Add some spice to the mix with hot peppers. Peppers need full sun and around 2 feet of space, but can also be grown in containers. Depending on your preference, you can add in extra peppers with varying heat levels, like habaneros for extra kick. Wait until the soil is dry before watering and do not overwater.
Onions: Get some onion sets from garden centers to transplant and grow at home. Plant them 4 to 5 inches apart, in a place where they’ll get full sun. Onions do not need much watering.
Cilantro: Cilantro thrives best in cool temperatures, making it best to plant in the early spring or fall. To make sure you have some through the summer, you can grow cilantro in a container inside. Position it near a window where it will get around five hours of sun or use a grow light to supplement the natural light.
Elevate an easy meal by making pizza from scratch with fresh ingredients. Grow the vegetables and herbs you’ll need for sauce, plus a topping or two.
Tomatoes: Just like in the salsa garden, tomatoes are an essential element. For making pizza sauce, Roma tomatoes are a good choice. Remember to give them full sun and plenty of space. Water them daily.
Oregano: Fresh herbs will add great flavor to your dish. Oregano should be planted in full sun and require about 8 to 10 inches of space. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Trim the leaves regularly to encourage more growth.
Basil: Plant basil plants in full sun with about 10 to 12 inches apart. Make sure the soil stays moist.
Bell peppers: No pizza is complete without some toppings. For a simple topping, grow bell peppers. They’ll need 12 to 18 inches of space and full sun. Water regularly.
Bonus: It’s too late in the season to plant garlic, but if you want to keep your garden going for next season, plan to plant a clove in the fall. You’ll see it shoot up next spring.
Cocktail (or Mocktail) Garden
Brighten up some summer drinks by growing fruits or herbs that can be muddled in, infused, or used as a garnish.
Blueberries: Muddle a few berries into a drink for some sweetness. It’s best to buy plants that are already 1 to 3 years old. Find a sunny spot and give the plant 4 to 5 feet of space, or plant it in a container. Give it 1 to 2 inches of water per week.
Mint: Make mojitos or mint juleps with mint straight from your own garden. Plant mint in full sun or partial shade. Be aware that mint grows fast and will spread, so it’s best to keep it contained in its own container. Keep the soil moist with regular watering.
Rosemary: Use fresh rosemary as a garnish or try infusing it in spirits to flavor them. It won’t do well outside over the winter, so plant it in a container that can be taken inside during the colder months. Place it in full sun for the best results. Water through the season, but do not overwater.
Lavender: Not only is lavender fragrant and pretty, it’s also a great addition to summer drinks. Add a sprig as garnish or infuse it to add a floral flavor. Plant lavender in full sun, about 2 to 3 feet apart. Water once or twice per week, and do not overwater.
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