Celebrate National Pizza Month With Pizza Herbs

Celebrate National Pizza Month With Pizza Herbs

October is National Pizza Month and gardeners can celebrate using pizza herbs from the garden.  October is the time to harvest those delicious herbs before first frost.  If you haven’t added herbs to your community or school garden, you should.  They are easy to grow and wonderful to use.

Celebrate National Pizza Month with Pizza Herbs
Basil is a favorite pizza herb and is easily grown in your community or school garden.

Growing Pizza Herbs

The pizza herbs oregano and basil can be easily grown in-ground, in raised beds, and in containers.  These need at least six hours of sun a day and well drained soil.  The plants are easy to find at local nurseries or big box stores, usually available all summer long.  You can also start pizza herbs from seeds early in the spring.

Celebrate National Pizza Month with Pizza Herbs
The pizza herb oregano can be grown in containers.

Herbs are most flavorful just before the plant blooms.  As you see flowers develop, pinch them off.  Throughout the summer it is very satisfying to harvest these fresh pizza herbs for homemade pizza night.  They are delicious as a pizza topping or in homemade pizza sauce.  Adding them to commercial jarred sauce adds a taste of freshness.

Harvesting and Preserving Pizza Herbs

Know that basil is especially susceptible to frost.  You need to harvest all of your basil before the first frost.  If you are growing in containers you can avoid those first frosts by bringing the containers indoors at night.

Herbs are best harvested in the morning hours, rinsed clean, and air dried.  The pizza herbs are very easy to dry.  Cut the stems as close to the soil as possible.  Tie the stems together and hang the bunch upside down in a warm, dry, well ventilated area.

Celebrate National Pizza Month With Pizza Herbs
Tie herb stems together to hang in a warm, dry well-ventilated space.


Once the leaves are dry you can crunch them between your fingers and store them in jars.  Discard the stems. This is an easy way to enjoy homemade pizza all winter long.  There are other ways to preserve the leaves.  See Herbs in Southern Gardens for more information.

Herbs are a great way to reduce salt in your diet.  Cooking with Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings gives great suggestions in using all of your garden herbs.

Enjoy National Pizza Month.  Creating homemade pizza with those end-of-the season tomatoes and herbs from your garden is a delicious end to the summer!

Happy Gardening!

Herbs in the Community Garden-A Guest Post by Linda Hlozansky

Basil in a plot with peppers and tomatoes
Basil in a plot with peppers and tomatoes

Some community gardens have a common area that is available for herb planting or individuals may decide to place them in their plots.   Herbs in Southern Gardens  by UGA’s Wayne McLaurin and Sylvia McLaurin is a good place to start when thinking about planting herbs. In the garden remember, if you want good flavor, pinch off the budding flowers.  (Although, many types of herb flowers are great for pollinators).

You have grown herb plants and now you have a little (or big) herb garden. What do I do with all this stuff? An easy way to begin is to taste the herb and think about the flavor. What foods would be enhanced by that flavor? I like to throw a lot of herbs in tossed salads. Experiment with adding chives, parsley, lavender, thyme, oregano, or basil to tossed salads. Don’t put all of them in at first. Try one or two herbs initially to see what you think of the flavor addition. Later you may be loading up the salad bowl with three or more tasty herbs. Another way to start is to experiment with herbs in omelets. Eggs are a neutral flavor serving as a backdrop for the fresh vegetables and herbs you add. You may be able to add less salt as the eggs are flavored by the herbs.

A common hedge of rosemary allows all gardeners to take springs home for cooking.
A common hedge of rosemary allows all gardeners to take springs home for cooking.

Soup time is just around the corner, and soups are my favorite for adding herbs. This summer mature chives had to be removed from my garden to allow summer vegetables more space. Having a lot of chives at once was really not a problem. They were quickly washed, chopped, and frozen in small portions for addition into winter soups. Just like big onions these little onions with intense flavor are very good in soups like Beef and Barley, Chicken and Rice, or my favorite Vegetable. Again experimenting with flavors to find your favorite is fun. A guideline to help you begin is in tomato based soups try: basil, oregano, parsley and/or cilantro. For soups with chicken as the base try: thyme, parsley, sage, and or savory.

Like soups, casseroles can be flavored with herbs to your hearts (or taste buds) content. The guidelines for casseroles are similar to those outlined for soups in the paragraph above. These foods are the comfort foods that shout homemade, so make the flavor yours by adding your favorite herbs.

As we approach the winter several popular herbs won’t make it past the first frost.  Basil is tender and if you want basil in the winter you will need to dry it. One easy way to dry the plants is to cut the stalks, tie them together and hang them upside down in a dry place.  Alternately you can dry the leaves inside individually on wax paper, making sure the wax paper is dry.  More sophisticated gardeners use a food dryer/dehydrator for drying herbs.  Any way you choose you will be happy in December when you have that flavor.

Oregano, rosemary and thyme plants may survive the winter if weather conditions are favorable.  For more information on incorporating herbs in your community garden contact your local UGA Extension Agent.  He/she will be able to give you useful information to help you achieve success.

Linda Hlozansky has been a Cobb County Master Gardener since 2009.  She is a talented gardener and she cooks as well as she gardens.   Her family is very lucky!

Happy gardening!