Planting a Salsa Garden

If you like chips and salsa, hot or mild, or Mexican food, it’s great fun to have a garden plot right outside your kitchen door that contains all the ingredients for the best salsa. Fresh is always delicious and with these ingredients and a nifty food processor you can have salsa all the time and never spend much time making it.

Getting Started – Whether you build a raised bed or select a place in your garden, be sure to build in layers that will decompose and provide nutrients for your vegetables such as leaves if you have them, grass clippings, a sprinkle of coffee grounds, pulverized egg shells, top soil, and compost.

What to Plant – This is up to what you want in your salsa. Typically, tomatoes, jalapeno, red onions, white onions, cilantro and red bell pepper. There are so many salsa versions that you might want to consult your recipe before deciding what to plant.

Tomatoes – More common tomato varieties such as Roma, San Marzano, or Amish Paste are excellent for salsa because they have fewer seeds, a meaty texture, and not much juice. If making thick salsa use one of the paste tomatoes above. If making a juicier salsa try Big Mamma or Little Mama. Also try tomatillos for a Mexican flair. If you use tomatillos, plant at least two for cross pollination.

Hot Peppers – Jalapeno peppers are popular for salsas, but there are other varieties that give a little more heat such as Serrano (a little hotter than jalapeno), Tabasco, and Habanero (really hot). You can mitigate the heat by removing some or all of the seeds inside the peppers.

Red & White Onions – Provide color to salsas but not as tender as yellow onions and have a mild flavor.

Red Bell Peppers – Although your peppers will be green to begin with, just leave them on the vine and they will turn red. Peppers add color and flavor to the salsa.

Cilantro – This herb is very versatile and gives a distinct Mexican flavor, but it is used widely in many soups, stews, and other recipes. The leaves are most flavorful on the young plant, so clip them often. Cilantro doesn’t like hot weather, so plant in pots and bring indoors when weather heats up.

How Many to Plant – In a 4×4 ft bed, you can plant 4 tomatoes or 2 tomatoes and 2 tomatillos, 1 hot pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 4 cilantro plants, 22 red onions and 10 white onions.