August 1, 2015 |

Patio Gardening — Back Road Pizza, Santa Fe, NM

By Denise Greer


Growing tomatoes on site can provide that tangible proof of a pizzeria’s commitment to fresh produce. Be forewarned: creating a patio garden still requires a green thumb. Piper Kapin grows various heirloom tomato plants, basil and other herbs on the patio at her pizzeria, Back Road Pizza, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Kapin provides us with the skinny on what it takes to grow heirloom tomatoes at her pizzeria:

Piper Kapin, owner  Back Road Pizza

Piper Kapin, owner
Back Road Pizza

“I start these little plants from seed at my house each February and they proceed to take over all my window sill space and even a large table in front of my sunniest window until the end of May.

I have a few varieties that I know grow well and we love having that I grow each year and then I always try a couple new ones to see if they are a good fit and add some variety.  We save seeds from prior years (heirloom benefits) and I purchase seeds from the lovely folks at Baker’s Creek Heirlooms (their seed catalog is insanely beautiful and fun) or from local farms who are selling starts around here.

We took about 18″ around 3 sides of our patio (at the restaurant) and turned it into garden beds. The front half is where we plant our tomatoes and basil and other herbs because it has the right amount of sun up there.

We secured 4′ x 8′ wire frames to our fence line to create an 8′ vertical tomato cage and I studied how to prune tomatoes so they grow vertically instead of low and bushy. So we get these very impressive 5-7′ tomatoes around the perimeter of the patio. The basil & other herbs are nestled in front and around the tomatoes and the combo provides an amazing aroma and also a beautiful visual for our guests.”

The patio isn’t the only place to grow vegetables and herbs, get creative with landscaping and even the rooftop. Explore Five ways pizzerias are growing gardens on site.