Grow Your Own Salsa Garden

Salsa gard

Salsa gardens have been popping up in four-feet by four-feet plots and raised beds in the yards of salsa lovers across the country.  Striking in their visual appeal, large plants heavy with tomatoes and brightly colored hot peppers stand tall while cilantro, shallots, garlic and onion nestle into the soil among them, and in one plot you can grow everything you need for homemade salsa.  It’s an easy start, a simple commitment.

Basic Salsa Ingredients

Although there are many different varieties of salsa available commercially, the basic ingredients for a fresh, tomato-based salsa are:

•    Tomatoes

•    Jalapeno peppers or sweet peppers, depending on taste preferences

•    Onions

•    Cilantro

Grow a Salsa Garden

All of the vegetable plants listed above can be purchased as transplants or seeds from a greenhouse or nursery as vegetable gardening season approaches. More seasoned or experienced vegetable gardeners might choose to grow all of these vegetable plants from seed, while beginner gardeners may prefer to grow their salsa garden from transplants. It is worth noting, however, that cilantro is easy to grow from seed, regardless of a gardener’s experience.

Growing Cilantro from Seed

Cilantro seeds can be sown directly after all danger of frost has passed. Seeds should be sown approximately 1/4″ deep, with a light layer of soil spread on top. Cilantro will reseed itself freely if allowed to flower. To prevent this, remove the spent flower heads from the plant if they appear. Continue to sow cilantro seeds every few weeks to maintain the supply.

Designing a Salsa Garden
Some gardeners may choose to arrange the salsa garden plants together in the garden. However, there is no reason why each vegetable must be grown in its own neat and tidy row. Set aside an area in the vegetable garden to grow salsa veggies. Get creative in the salsa garden by arranging the plants in concentric circles, with the star ingredient, the tomato, in the centre of the design. Onions planted around the edge of the circle form a delicate border for the bed, while ripening pepper plants interspersed with cilantro form the middle layer..

Growing a Container Salsa Garden

For those vegetable gardeners working with a minimum amount of space, a salsa garden can also be grown easily in containers. Choose varieties of peppers and tomatoes that are most suitable for growing in containers. Determinant varieties such as the heirloom tomato, “Silvery Fir Tree” are ideal. Many types of sweet and hot peppers alike grow well in pots on a warm, sunny deck.

Harvesting and Combining Salsa Ingredients

Regardless of the design or method used to grow a salsa garden, harvesting will no doubt become the favorite part of growing a salsa-themed garden.

Once all of the ingredients have been harvested, coarsely chop up ripe tomatoes, peppers, onion, and cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste, and, if desired, squeeze the juice from half a lime over all. Toss and serve with a dish of tortilla chips and a bucket of cold bottles of Mexican-style beer!

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