Grow a spaghetti sauce theme garden in a 4' x 4' raised bed

Tomatoes in raised beds get a head start

For the real giants, you must thin the tomatoes. So, choose to grow a lot of smaller tomatoes or, grow fewer fruits to get giant tomatoes.
For the real giants, you must thin the tomatoes. So, choose to grow a lot of smaller tomatoes or, grow fewer fruits to get giant tomatoes. | Source

Pompeii Tomato

Pompeii tomato are meaty paste type tomatoes perfect for topping a pizza or making spaghetti sauce.
Pompeii tomato are meaty paste type tomatoes perfect for topping a pizza or making spaghetti sauce. | Source

Grow a raised bed theme garden

Grow your own spaghetti sauce in a 4'x 4' theme garden.

Plan a recipe garden. Grow your favorite meals in a custom designed garden using a favorite recipe.

A spaghetti sauce garden will have tomatoes obviously, but also include onions and these herbs: oregano, basil, parsley. Grow garlic chives if you did not plant garlic last fall.

Plan a garden to include as many home grown ingredients as possible. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables that they grow. You will have your favorite freshly made recipe and perhaps, even enough produce to freeze or can a jar or two of salsa or spaghetti sauce.

You will need:

2 determinant tomato plants

1 sweet pepper

1 Italian pepper (optional)

about 2 or 3 dozen onion sets

1 or 2 starter plants each, oregano, parsley, basil

Peppers and tomatoes

Big, juicy, thick walled bell peppers are tasty served green or let them ripen to red for a sweeter flavor.
Big, juicy, thick walled bell peppers are tasty served green or let them ripen to red for a sweeter flavor. | Source

Variety Suggestions

2 determinant tomato plants: Stupice (heirloom), Celebrity (hybrid). Determinant tomatoes are a good choice if you don't want to climb a ladder to pick the tomatoes off heavy, tall vines that don't stop growing until frost. For youngsters or seniors, determinant plants are much more manageable.

In a 4x4 garden you have plenty of room for 2 or 3 full sized indeterminate tomatoes. Or, 2 full size, and 1 cherry tomato. Adding a cherry tomato will give you the earliest ripe tomato.

Plant Roma or paste type tomatoes if you will be making sauce. Planting three tomatoes will not crowd the plants and will decrease the possibility of disease. Serious pasta and pizza gardeners might choose three Roma tomato plants

1 sweet pepper and 1 hot pepper (optional): You have room for two pepper plants. One a sweet bell pepper, your color choice. The other pepper plant can be mildly spicy or hot, your choice.

Sweet bell peppers come in red, orange, yellow, purple and chocolate color, their taste is similar. All may be picked green with mild flavor getting slightly sweeter as it ripens to it's full color.

Mildly hot peppers include Ancho or Pablano, Anaheim, California Mild, Corno di Toro Rosso, Cherry Bomb.

Fresh herbs are the best

Parsley, curly or flat leaf, is a gardeners choice. Most people can't tell the difference in a blind taste testing.Grow both and taste test for yourself.
Parsley, curly or flat leaf, is a gardeners choice. Most people can't tell the difference in a blind taste testing.Grow both and taste test for yourself. | Source

Fresh herbs and onions

Oregano, parsley, and basil: 2 starter plants each. Buy starter plants. Sink 2 pots into the soil in two corners. Plant an oregano in each pot. Oregano is a perennial. You will be able to lift the plants and move to a permanent home.

Plant the two parsley pants in the other two corners. Sweet Curly or Italian flat leaf is your choice. In a blind taste test, there is no difference. This will give herbs the full sun that they need to thrive. You will have easy access to weed and harvest.

Imagine the 4 x 4 square is divided in quarters. Plant 1 tomato into each of 3 quarters. Plant the two pepper plants in the fourth quarter. Space plants so they will have maximum air circulation as they grow.

Plant the basil roughly between the tomato plants an a little closer to the edge. Basil and tomatoes are good companion plants. They will encourage each other to grow.

2 or 3 dozen onion sets: choose red, yellow or white onions. You have room enough to grow more onions (double) if you want to try a couple of varieties.

Finally, plant the onion sets about 3” from the edge of the garden and about 4” apart. Skip the spaces in front of the basil. You can plant onions closer, if you intend to pull or thin them to every other onion.

Mulch, mulch, mulch the entire 4 x 4 garden. Then apply more mulch later in the summer. Mulch keeps vegetables clean, prevents soil born plant disease, keeps the soil cooler, retains moisture.

Try Something New

Roma / paste
heirloom tomato
cherry tomato
Heinz Super Roma
Gold Medal
Sun Gold
Renee's Garden Pompeii
German Pink
Yellow Pear
Principe Borghese
Black Krim
Black Cherry
Try something new. Either start from seed or buy starter plants. Put tomatoes in the garden when night temperatures stay in the mid-50 degree range.

Choose Coir or peat moss

Coir made from coconut shells is a readily renewable resource.Many growers prefer it over peat moss.
Coir made from coconut shells is a readily renewable resource.Many growers prefer it over peat moss. | Source

The real dirt

One Last thing. Do this first.

Prepare the soil before you plant.

Your Garden Soil Needs: Increased water holding capacity and good drainage.

Your Tomato Plants Will: withstand the spring's heavy rains and summer's drought.

Work organic matter into the soil before you plant. Once your plants are in, don't want to disturb the roots.

What to add: use chopped leaves, wheat straw, shredded newspaper, grass clippings. Or, use leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, crushed egg shells. Used coffee grounds. (Some coffee shops giveaway used coffee grounds.)

And, buy bagged, composted animal manures, sharp sand or builders sand. Canadian sphagnum peat moss, or organic mulch.

Add organic materials now. Work these materials into the soil. You cannot add too much organic matter. Once the tomatoes are planted, disturb the soil as little as possible.

Adding N, P or K by using blood meal (Nitrogen), bone meal (Phosphorus) and greensand (K potassium).

→ Most plants fail because we try too hard. ← We over fertilize and over water the vegetable patch.

Apply fertilizers only as recommended. Too much fertilizer means big tomato plants, not more tomatoes.

Add flower power

Nasturtium, "Cup of Sun" tumbles over the raised bed. Add color and attract pollinators by adding a bit of flower power in empty spaces.
Nasturtium, "Cup of Sun" tumbles over the raised bed. Add color and attract pollinators by adding a bit of flower power in empty spaces. | Source

Grow more in the same space

Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce Recipe Originally published as Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce in Taste of Home

  • Before you plant the spaghetti sauce garden, use the space for an early salad garden. Grow a variety of lettuces and radishes.
  • After your tomatoes and peppers are finished for the season, plant turnips, kale, chard. You have plenty of room some more salad greens and radishes.

Scallions

I am planting a double row of onions on two sides of the raised bed. By the time the tomatoes start getting big, you will have harvested at least half of the onions as scallions or green onions.

BONUS Color

Poke a couple nasturtium seed in empty spaces.

Plant 1 or two giant sunflower in the very center of the 4x4 square. They will sore above the tomato plants.

Extra growing space

The soil squares in the concrete blocks are filled with early spring lettuces and onions. All lettuces and small green onions will be harvested, leaving a single onion to grow to a 3-inch wide bulb.
The soil squares in the concrete blocks are filled with early spring lettuces and onions. All lettuces and small green onions will be harvested, leaving a single onion to grow to a 3-inch wide bulb. | Source

Concrete block raised bed

Plant an herb and leafy greens border in the small squares in the blocks. Take advantage of the small, squares for marigolds, calendula, nasturtiums.
Plant an herb and leafy greens border in the small squares in the blocks. Take advantage of the small, squares for marigolds, calendula, nasturtiums. | Source

Example garden

Plant a pasta garden in a 4' x 4' raised bed

Peppers, "Corno di Toro Mix" or

Pepper, Italian Sweet, Organic, "Sunset Mix"

Choose one of these Italian peppers and plant two plants

Tomato, "Chianti Rose"

Tomato, Plum, "Italian Pompeii"


Basil, Container, "Italian Cameo"

Parsley, Organic "Italian Large Leaf"

Oregano, "Italian Heirloom"

I am planting a spaghetti sauce garden using seed from Renee's Garden.

In the fall, after garden cleanup, work in organic matter and cover bed with grass clippings of shredded leaves. Then, consider planting a few garlic cloves.

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13 comments

Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 20 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

wodawgs, "can I just till that matter right into my garden boxes and have it come out composted by spring?" Yes, if the matter is broken down or finely chopped it will quickly decompose when added to the soil. Another option is to dig a hole in you garden and bury you scraps, layering with a little soil in the hole as well. It will quickly decompose with the added benefit of putting the earthworms to work for you.


twodawgs 20 months ago

I love the theme idea, it's a great way to plan growing space so that what you grow gets used efficiently. Efficiency aside, I'm just droolin' for some home-grown tomatoes.

Re: the growing mix... I've been experimenting with home-made compost from dead leaves, shredded paper bags and coffee filters, coffee grinds, and vegetable scraps. Instead of brewing them in a container indoors for the winter - which works okay, I haven't had any problems with bad odors - can I just till that matter right into my garden boxes and have it come out composted by spring? I did add some dead leaves to some of them last fall and they are fairly well consumed now.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Thanks for stopping by.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 2 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

Excellent idea for a Hub!


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

You may need to make two trips to the garden center. These concrete blocks are very heavy. They may be too heavy to haul all at once.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Robertr04, Jodah, and MarleneB, it is a happy day to have new readers. Thank you, Please ask if you have gardening questions. I appreciate you.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

MarleneB, another advantage is growing basil and tomatoes close by, it it will encourge us to harvest some basil every time we pick tomatoes. If you have any questions, please ask.


Patsybell profile image

Patsybell 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO Author

Faith Reaper, and Jackie Lynnley I appreciate your kind words and attention. The best news I can imagine is hearing that someone is actually using my advice or tips. I love to share my love of gardening. Thank you.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Wow, I have never heard of such a garden! How clever and you have provided excellent instructions here. You know your stuff as to gardening. I am glad Jackie wrote about you or rather gave you a "Hug" or I may have not ever come across your wonderful hubs. Up and more and sharing. Blessings, Faith Reaper.


Robertr04 2 years ago from Detroit,Mi.

No wiser words could I have read today, "know where your food comes from and what's in it."


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

What a great idea. Wonderful hub, putting all the ingredients for a spaghetti sauce in one garden. Very well set out and easy to follow. Thanks. Voted up.


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

This is excellent information. I'm just getting ready to start planting my garden. You have given me some excellent ideas. For instance, I didn't know that basil and tomatoes are companion plants and I am glad to learn that I should select determinant tomatoes. Last year, my tomato plant grew so large it almost took over the back yard. I didn't know what to do. Now I know. Thank you for such valuable gardening tips.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

This is a great idea, I think I will do a couple of them! I can't wait to use your tomato planting tips. Wish I could pack in all your knowledge. I have a friend here, Faith Reaper, and we have decided to definitely make up some of your vinegars, they sound so good.

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    Patsy Bell Hobson (Patsybell)214 Followers
    113 Articles

    I inherited my love of gardening from mother and grandmother. I am a garden blogger, freelance writer, Master Gardener emeritus.



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