Lasagna Gardening

Written by Sarah Provost
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No, you can't plant a noodle tree, a sausage bush or a tidy row of ricottas. But you can grow everything else you need to make lasagna and other Italian favorites. Homegrown tomatoes and herbs will give your cooking a burst of flavor you won't believe until you experience it for yourself.

Growing Tomatoes for Sauce

Tomatoes basically come in three varieties: cherry, slicing and sauce. For your lasagna garden, of course, you'll want to plant a variety developed especially for sauce, meaty with few seeds. Big Mama is one of the very best hybrids for this use, followed by Viva Italia and the classic Roma.

You'll want some basil and oregano, and perhaps parsley as well. All are very easy to grow. Basil comes in many varieties--the kind you'll want for your sauce is sweet basil. Keep the shoots pinched back to encourage branching, and always remove any flower tops before they bloom. A new variety called Summerlong stands up well to heat. The oregano used for Italian sauces is, oddly enough, Greek oregano. Plant curly parsley if you also want to use it for garnishes, or flat Italian parsley for a more pronounced flavor.

Onions are usually grown from "sets," small immature plants, and garlic by planting cloves from a "mother" bulb. While you're at it, why not plant some lettuce, cucumbers, radishes and summer squash for a tossed salad? Now if only we could grow some crusty Italian bread and a few cannoli, we'd be all set.

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