On a warm afternoon with a margarita in hand, I love to have chips and homemade salsa. What’s even better is when I have made that salsa from herbs and vegetables out of my own garden. The juicy tomatoes, the distinct flavor of cilantro and the kick from jalapeno peppers makes homemade salsa so dang great. Creating a themed garden around food that you love brings your love of cooking into your backyard and joins it with your love of gardening. Here’s how to create a salsa garden in your backyard.
First you want to think about what you love in your favorite salsa. The main ingredients are a mixture of tomatoes including Roma, cherry, and either Better Boy or Early Girl. If you want a sweeter taste add in grape or pear tomatoes. Salsa also has onions, both from the bulb and chives. If you are in an area where you can grow regular onions, then plant those. If you can’t grow bulb onions the next best thing is to grow onion chives. Salsas are also known for their peppers. For a little heat, you will want to grow jalapeños or Haninero peppers. For a touch of sweetness, grow bell peppers in wonderful colors like red, orange, yellow, or green. Lastly, salsa needs lemons and limes and if you can grow a citrus tree for your salsa garden, that is awesome, if not you will need to grab these from the store.
Growing tomatoes is one of the most popular things to do in the summer. In your Salsa Garden, plant the tomatoes at least 12 inches away from other plants in all directions as they need a lot of nutrients from the surrounding soil. You can plant from seed or transplants and bury the stem up to the second set of true leaves, removing the first set of leaves before burying in the soil. All those little hairs on a tomato plant can grow roots and the more roots the plant has, the more fruit it will produce.
Growing onions from bulbs is very rewarding but also very time consuming. If you can add onion bulbs to your Salsa Garden, plant them throughout as they also act as a good pest deterrent. If you can’t grow the bulbs, then by all means grab a seed packet of onion chives. These grow in a similar fashion to grass and you can harvest them every few days and they will shoot up more stems all summer long. At the end of the season when you pull them up they will have grown small edible bulbs like their cousins who grow the large bulbs.
Both bell peppers and jalapeños grow in a similar fashion. They are heat loving plants that are perennials which mean they will grow year round, year after year. These vegetables grow more like shrubs and need some space. Plant them at least 18 inches from other plants. These plants produce a lot of fruit, enough to share with your neighbors! Grow both a heat pepper and a bell pepper for your Salsa Garden.
When getting the space ready for the Salsa Garden make sure you amend the soil with compost, earthworm castings, plus blood and bone meal to give the plants the nutrients they need to grow and produce all these wonderful vegetables. Add this mixture to the top of the plants monthly as their fertilizer. After you have planted your Salsa Garden into this nutrient-rich soil, water it in deeply until you can grab a handful of soil and it stays together but when you squeeze no water comes out. Water daily until the seeds have popped up and then every other day until the plants have matured then you can water 1-2 times a week depending on how hot it is in your growing area.
Enjoying eating fresh salsa from your very own backyard Salsa Garden!
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