One of my greatest gardening joys is planting things that I know my family will love. Salsa is a family favorite in my home and maybe yours too. So let’s learn how to grow a salsa garden together and have this family favorite fresh from our gardens this year! 😀
Tomatoes, peppers, onion and cilantro are the basic salsa garden ingredients. They can be planted in formal garden spaces, containers or integrated into your landscape design (a.k.a. eatable landscaping).
How to Grow Onions
Onions tolerate cool soil and should be planted early in the spring. Onions sets are available from your local garden center in red, white and/or yellow. Like all bulbs, onions are susceptible to rot if they sit in wet soil for long periods of time so plant them in well drained soil. Press the root end into the soil until the bulb is about 3/4 buried; space them 4-6 inches apart. Harvest individual onions when the tomatoes and peppers are ready or about 1/4 of the top has died.
A fleshy paste tomato, like the Roma, is preferred for salsa because it has less juice and seeds, but any tomato variety will work. If you have limited space, select plants that are determinate, or are bred for containers or small spaces. Most mature tomato plants are large and need support, especially when they begin to fruit. Support the plant with a staked tomato cage or tie it to a sturdy trellis with strips of a cotton rag right away.
How to Grow Peppers
It is important to consider your family’s heat tolerance when you select pepper(s). If you are a mild salsa family, consider the relatively mild Anaheim pepper or a sweet bell pepper. For spicy salsa, consider the standard Jalapeno or super hot Habernaro. A quick internet search for the Scoville heat scale, measures pepper heat, will help you choose the pepper(s) that fit your family best.
Tomatoes and peppers want warm soil and air temperatures, and a long growing season. Both vegetables can be found at your local garden center or you can start them as seedlings 6-8 weeks prior to planting. Plant them outside when ALL danger of frost is past or protect them in a cloche. They should receive 6-8+ hours of full sunlight a day. Keep the soil evenly moist to avoid blossom end rot on tomatoes and get optimal production. Roma tomatoes and Jalapeno peppers will mature in about 75 days.
Plant cilantro, an annual herb, in a container and keep it on a sunny windowsill, or outside in the garden if you can provide cool soil. Start cilantro about 3 weeks before you expect to harvest the remaining ingredients or plant as a succession planting (seed 2-3 weeks for several plantings). Germination can take 14 days so don’t give up on it too soon! Harvest outer leaves when the plant is 6-8 inches tall.
The USDA Home Canning Guide has a whole section on salsa in Guide 3 if you are looking for recipes and information on preserving salsa. I hope you have been encouraged to plant a salsa garden for your family this spring so your family can enjoy the fruits of your labor (garden fresh salsa) later this summer.
Leave a note here on Tip Junkie or contact me at The Full Circle Gardener if you have questions. Next week we will look into the concept of eatable landscaping and naturally incorporating other family table favorites into our landscape design. Until next week, Happy (Salsa) Gardening! 🙂
How to Garden Series:
Step 1 – Ground Site Selection
Step 2 Improve Gardening Soils
Step 3 Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101
Step 4 What To Plant
Step 5 Gardening with Children
Step 6 Top 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed
Step 7 Cut Flower Gardening 101
Step 8 – Container Gardening 101
Step 9 – How to Grow a Salsa Garden
Hi, I’m Stacy. I write The Full Circle Gardener out of my love of gardening and plants. I have a BS in Botany and an MS in Ecology, but more importantly, I grew up helping my parents garden and started gardening for my own family in 2005. Join me in my adventures as a “full circle” gardener… starting seedlings, planting, tending, harvesting, composting, processing and of course eating the wonderful fruit of my labors!