Make a pizza with fresh ingredients from your garden. ATTRIBUTION: Alpha (Flickr)

Do you enjoy authentic Italian dishes, such as pizza topped with fresh mushrooms and artichokes? How about some flavorful Indian food, such as samosas, a popular appetizer filled with savory ingredients, such as spiced onions, potatoes, lentils, and peas? These and other ethnic fare can be made at home with fresh, quality fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown in your own backyard. Here’s a look at how to build and use a culture-inspired garden at home.


Grow a diverse selection of vegetables in your garden to create zesty pasta sauces and other mouth-watering Italian cuisine. Consider sowing seasonal plants such as capers, basil, and garlic, which are all essential flavors used in Italian cooking. Other ways to give your Italian recipes true flavor is with fresh-grown veggies. Roma tomatoes, Borlotti beans, zucchini, radicchio, and eggplant can enhance and authenticate many traditional Italian foods.


Classic Greek gardens are designed with hardy plants and protective walls to stand up against the elements. Perennial herbs and drought-tolerant natives such as parsley and chives are commonly seen in traditional Greek landscapes. You might also try starting an orchard instead, if you have the right climate: Grow limes, lemons, tangerines, or oranges to add to sweet dishes. For example, lemons can be cut into wedges to stand alone as a seasoning, squeezed over grilled meats or salads, or added to pies to make the pastry more tender when baked.


Japanese gardens are not only used as spaces for mediation and reflection, but they can also contain various fresh ingredients fundamental for Japanese cooking. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that is both inexpensive to grow and can add instant flavor and nutrition to a broad range of meals. When sliced in thin strips, this veggie can be added to tonkatsu, korokke, or a variety of other fried dishes. Horenso (spinach), kaba (turnip), satsumaimo (sweet potatoes), and nagaimo (yams) are also commonly grown and used in Japanese cuisine.


Indian gardens often feature plants that thrive in hot tropical weather. While a large majority of the plants grown in India are flowering plants, the country also produces a diverse variety of herbs, fruits, and veggies that can be used in Indian-inspired dishes. Basil is one of the most commonly grown herbs in India, primarily due to its religious significance. Turnips, potatoes, melons, thyme, sage, and other fresh ingredients are grown and used to add intense flavor to cultural meals.


Chinese gardens feature distinct designs that focus on tranquility and peace. Water features are commonly incorporated into Chinese gardens to add a soothing aspect to the landscape. Savory Chinese turnip pancakes can be made using jicama (Chinese turnips) or daikon (Chinese radishes). The roots of the radishes can also be used in Chinese sauces, salads, and stir-fried seafood to add spice. The momordica charantia, or bitter melon, is also commonly grown and produces fruit that looks similar to warty cucumbers. They are often used in stir-fries and other Asian fare.