The ideal Salsa Garden contains onions, a tomato plant, a pepper plant and cilantro. Any container will do if it is the correct size. My container happens to be pretty large and more of a huge raised bed created from half of our backyard lawn. I don’t recommend this unless you have a spouse like mine or are like him and really enjoy digging in the dirt for hours on end. Pottery containers such as those purchased at your local mom and pop garden store or even the plastic ones work really well. My favorite idea is the old plastic recycle containers that are no longer used by our sanitation service. They have holes in the bottom and stack well when not in use. I have a friend who does this and he thinks it’s just great to recycle the recycle bin. Basically anything that can hold enough soil to allow the plants’ roots to spread enough and has good drainage is what will work. You can even try the upside down hanging tomato which takes no space on the ground at all. Tomatoes will need the deepest container about 20 inches in diameter is ideal.
There are many varieties of tomato form which to choose. My garden has Ace and Early Girl. Ace is my favorite because we like the density, sweetness and the large size. Early Girls is in our garden because we are impatient and want early tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes work for salsas too and are great in salads. Whatever your preference be sure to check with an expert like Master Gardeners to be sure it will thrive in your conditions. This is true for peppers as well.
Peppers are in the nightshade family with tomatoes and have similar needs. Jalapeno peppers are traditional in my house and the quintessential salsa pepper. One could argue you can use bell peppers in your salsa, which I have and enjoy very much, but hands down Jalapeno is the one. You could go really hot and try Habanero. I do not recommend Bhut Jolokia peppers with a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) level of one million! Unless of course you really don’t want to live with your GI tract in tact. Seriously, jalapeno is hot enough at 2500-8000 SHU. Habanero is pushing the limits at around 350,000 SHU. My husband planted one and I will not touch it. Choose your poison, literally.
Cilantro is the herb of choice used in many salsa preparations. This is easy to grow and will flower. The flowers turn into the spice Coriander. You can harvest these little balls of spice for other applications.
Onions are part of the ingredient list as well. I recommend buying onion sets. For a container small green onions are my choice. You don’t have to harvest them all at once and can use them as you need them. Seeds can work really well too with onions and ought to be started in the spring.
All four of the plants mentioned like to have about 6 hours of sun a day. Remember your climate may determine a different amount of time in the heat of the sun so check with Master Gardeners in your area.
Kathi Here – So are you going to do it? Even if you just start with a tomatoe plant, it is exciting to see it get up and GROW. If you are going to start, proclaim it loud and proud in the comments – OH. And don’t forget – everyone who comments this week will be entered to win that $25 Gift Card from Home Depot!!!
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.
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