If you’re anything like me you love fresh salsa, so why not try planting a salsa garden? Planting a garden with a theme or end goal in mind can make your garden planning much easier. If you’re low on space and don’t have room for raised beds or a traditional garden your salsa garden can all be in containers. We’ll go over what five plants you should plan on having in your garden for salsa making and the number of plants you’ll want.
Planning Your Salsa Garden
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide where you’re going to put your salsa garden. You need to pick a spot that gets a good amount of sun as tomatoes and peppers are sun lovers. If you’re planting you garden in containers you will need to obtain your containers and make sure they are filled with a premium quality raised bed soil. While purchasing the soil you need you should also consider some plant food to feed your vegetables as they will quickly use up the nutrients that are already in the soil.
The number of containers you will need really depends on how much salsa you are going to want. At minimum, you will want:
- two tomato plants – one per container
- two pepper plants – one per container
- cilantro – one container
- onions – two containers
- garlic – one container
What to Grow in your Salsa Garden
There are five plants that you will want in your salsa garden, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic and cilantro. If you’re able to grow all of these yourself you are sure to be enjoying some delicious homemade summer salsa.
To make salsa I prefer to use paste tomatoes like a Roma or San Marzano, these tomatoes tend to be more meaty and contain less juice, which is great when you’re trying to make salsa. Slicing tomatoes are juicier and have more seeds, if you use these to make salsa you will end up needing more tomatoes to make the salsa chunkier and cooking it longer if your goal is to can your salsa for use during the winter months.
It’s best to start your tomatoes inside under grow lights 6 weeks before your last frost date. After you’ve hardened your tomatoes, or not, I’ve never been very good about hardening my plants and for the most part they do fine. But you will want to be sure to wait to put them outside after the threat of frost has passed. You can also find vegetable starts at greenhouses if you don’t want to start your own plants from seed.
For salsa I like to have sweet peppers and hot peppers and if you’re doing the minimum of two pepper plants I would recommend planting a bell pepper and a jalapeno pepper, if you’d like more variety you can always add some more pepper containers and try a few other peppers depending on your preferences. For a hotter salsa I’d recommend planting a couple varieties of hot pepper, habenaro or Hungarian hot wax are some options. For a more mild salsa consider peppers such as bell peppers and a mild chili pepper like the Anaheim.
Peppers need to be started inside as well, planting under grow lights 8 weeks before your last frost date, but again if you don’t want to start your own plants your local nursery should have some plants available to buy.
For onions you will want to make sure you choose a variety that is well suited to your region. I live in region 4b and if we start onions from seed we generally need to do this by mid February. Onions are slow growers and need plenty of time to develop their bulb. If you’re unsure of what to plant in your area your local garden store should carry the variety best suited, you may also be able to find onion starts or sets. Sets are small onion bulbs that can be planted directly into the ground.
Garlic is the one thing in your salsa garden you should plan ahead for. Garlic is generally planted in the fall so the bulbs can grow larger, though they can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. Spring bulbs will be smaller but will still taste the same as fall bulbs.
Cilantro is a super easy herb to grow and will add nice flavor to your salsa. Cilantro is quick to mature, a couple of ways to ensure you have cilantro all summer for your salsa is to grow a plant that is a slow bolt variety, re-seed cilantro every 4 weeks or preserve your cilantro by freezing chopped leaves in an ice cube tray with a little water.
Planning is Key to your Success
With a little planning your garden is sure to be successful, knowing what you want to plant and how much room each plant needs is crucial for getting your garden ready. How did your salsa garden turn out this year?