It’s not delivery

Published 8:11 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2011

While many people choose delivery or frozen brands, it can also be satisfying to grow your own ingredients.. Prducing all the goods needed to create your own sauce can be as simple as planting a small vegetable garden in the backyard. -- Special photo

Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Red Baron or DiGiorno are just some of the famous delivery and freezer brands that can be expensive when you’re on a budget. Have you ever considered creating your own pizza garden in the backyard for half the cost?

Planting such produce as tomatoes, onions and herbs for toppings can be an easy task.

“The growing part is not hard,” said Regional Extension agent for Dallas County Willie Datcher. “You can grow most of these vegetables for less than $20, depending on where you buy your plants and seeds.”

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And when you don’t have space for a home garden, Datcher suggests planting produce in containers.

“They’re the easiest and convenient, and there’s just a lot you can do with them,” Datcher said. “With containers, water is easy to control and to move around. It also gives kids something to do in the afternoons instead of watching TV.

“With a 20-by-20 foot garden, everything you want to put on your pizza — tomatoes, bell pepper, onions and garlic — can be grown there,” Datcher said.

Most plants, Datcher said, take anywhere between 50 to 70 days to grow.

“It all depends on the maturity and size of the plant,” Datcher said. “Plants may take longer due to weather conditions. The time frame is a measuring stick to see if the plant produces fruit.”

No matter where you purchase plants or seeds, Datcher said, just make sure the store specializes in those products.

“Do your homework,” Datcher said. “Look for name brand plants and labels. Avoid plants that have wrinkles or diseases on them because it can spread in your garden.”

Canadian Living gives the following “pizza perfect” garden plants:

Several varieties of basil plants (six to 12), two to three eggplants, red and white onions (20 to 30), tomato plants, Oregano plants, sweet pepper and hot peppers and zucchini.

The University of Tennessee gives the following steps to creating your own homemade pizza:

Determine what type of theme garden you’d like.

Determine the location and size of your garden. Select an area that receives at least six hours of full sunlight every day and is close to a water source.

With the help of an extension agent, take a soil sample and send it to be analyzed.

Change the soil according to soil test results.

Using a tiller, work in a 3-inch layer of organic matter, such as peat moss, manure, rotted compost, to improve soil structure.

Select plants from a list of recommended varieties.

Plant warm-season vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and most herbs after April 25 to avoid frost or freeze damage.

Water, weed, fertilize and harvest on a weekly basis throughout the growing season.

Enjoy your abundance of fresh vegetable and herbs.

Buy plain pizza crust or pizza dough and mix a homemade sauce of the grown garden fresh ingredients and voila — you have a made-from-scratch pizza!

Pizza sauce recipe:

1 gallon prepared tomatoes

1can tomato paste

1 whole onion

1garlic clove

1cup sweet bell pepper

½ cup sugar

½ cup vinegar

Herbs, salt, pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in large Crock-Pot and let cook six to eight hours. Frequently drain off excess juice and save for canning.

For more tips and recommended plants, visit the Agricultural Extension website at