Saturday, May 23, 2015

Grow a Sicilian/Italian kitchen garden in as little as 6' x 6'

Traditional Italian vegetables-peppers, zucchini, eggplant, basil, beans and tomatoes

Saturday, May 23, 2015

If you have ever wanted to plant an Italian kitchen garden, but weren’t sure if you had the space, you may be surprised.  You can grow the staples of an Italian kitchen garden in as little as 6’ x 6’ space.  To entice the little ones, an Italian garden is also a "Pizza or Spaghetti Garden."

It is common for Italians to have a small kitchen garden where they grow herbs, greens and vegetables year round.  It is amazing the amount of food you can grow in a very small space!
You only need a 6x6', 4'x9' or 3'x12' space to grow
a productive kitchen garden

If you have only a 6’ x 6’ space, a Sicilian kitchen garden could include the following:
Herbs (1 each)-thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and flat leaf parsley
3 basil plants (for pesto and seasoning)
2 tomatoes-1 Roma type for sauces and 1 slicer type for salads
2 sweet pepper plants
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
8 red onions
8 garlic plants
Arugula, spinach and lettuce scatter sowed

If you also have room for pots on the patio, you could grow the zucchini, eggplant, and cucumber in pots  (only 1 plant in each pot) and add 3 bush or 6 pole bean plants in the garden bed.  Traditional bush beans would be lentils, Romano, Capitano, Cannellini, fava; pole beans-Roma, Helda, Supermarconi.  Personally, I would stick with the beans you eat whole as shelled beans you do not get as much food per plant.

If you have more room, you can add almonds (yes, they survive Midwest winters), beets, chard, fennel, chickpeas, figs, chicories, radicchio, endives, broccoli, cauliflower (all grow well in a pot too), asparagus, cardoon, or annual artichokes.

Don't be afraid to interplant your veggies with your flowers.  Flowers not only look great, but they also attract pollinators, increasing your yields, and insects that take care of the dreaded veggie eating insects.  It is a win-win all the way around.

I tuck onions between my day lilies and plant marigolds all around the perimeter of my flower and veggie patch.  Day lilies are edible and marigolds are a great pest deterrent.

Seed catalogs that have a good selection of Italian vegetables and herbs-Johnnie’s Selected Seeds, Renee’s Garden, Seeds of Change, Territorial Seed Company, Cook’s Garden, Seeds from Italy, Italian Seeds & Tool Co., Botanical Interest, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Baker Creek is a new favorite for me right now.  They have an amazing collection of unusual and heirloom seeds from all around the world, including Sicily.

At the big box stores and hardware stores, I have seen displays for Italian seeds.  Big box stores and local nurseries have the summer favorite plants available right now.  They carry many heirloom varieties, too.    Plants are a great way to get started.  Now is the perfect time to put in your own Sicilian kitchen garden.

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