Summer in the vegetable garden is the perfect time to grow all of the ingredients for fresh salsa or pico de gallo. Wondering how to grow a salsa garden in your home garden or container garden? I’ve got all you need to know!
Salsa is the Spanish word for any type of sauce, but for most of us, it refers to a type of sauce that contains a variety of vegetables and is used as a dip.
Salsa can be mild or hot, sweet or spicy, chunky or smooth. It also can be tomato-based, like most red salsas, or tomatillo-based, which is where verde (or green) salsa comes from.
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Garden salsa ingredients are easy to grow in the home garden or container garden, and salsa itself is easy to make. (Check out my recipe for garden fresh pico de gallo at the bottom of the post!) Learn how to grow a salsa garden, so you can have fresh vegetable dip for tortilla chips and to top fish and meat dishes.
What To Include In A Salsa Garden
What ingredients do you like in salsa? Tomatoes? Hot peppers? Onions? Cilantro? Whatever vegetables and herbs you enjoy in salsa can be grown in a home garden. Even lemons and limes can be grown in a home garden for juicing into a salsa recipe.
Here are some of the classic ingredients for most varieties of salsa:
- Tomatoes (you’ll want a juicy variety!)
- Sweet pepper
- Garlic (How to Grow Garlic Guide)
- Green chilies
- Onions (red, yellow, or sweet)
Now, can all of these things grow at the same time? No. Many of the salsa garden ingredients are from the summer garden. Tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, chilis, and cilantro can all be grown in summer. Limes are typcially a winter fruit, but if you do grow your own limes, you could freeze the juice for fresh summer salsa.
Onions and garlic, which both have a long growing season, will be harvested in late spring or summer, but would have been planted in early spring or in the fall.
Best Time of Year To Grow A Salsa Garden
Spring is the best time for planting most of the desired vegetables and herbs for salsa. Garlic should be planted in the fall for a spring harvest and citrus trees will require a few years of growth before they can produce lemons or limes for juicing.
Dwarf lemon or lime trees can be grown indoors in containers year-round and used as decorative houseplants. The trees will still produce full-sized citrus fruits in the spring and summer.
Caring For A Salsa Garden
- Plant the tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, etc., in prepared soil after all danger of frost has passed in the spring. Prepare the soil before planting the garden by incorporating 4-inches of compost into the soil. The compost will help feed the plants, improve drainage, and prevent soil compaction.
- These salsa plants can be grown in containers or an in-ground garden. When growing salsa garden plants in containers, use potting soil that contains compost or create a 50/50 planting mix with potting soil and compost. (Grab my DIY Potting Soil Mix recipe here!)
- Water garden plants when rainfall is slack. Apply water at the soil level to avoid getting plant foliage wet and water deeply to encourage plant roots to grow deep.
- Plant marigolds around the salsa garden to help keep pests off of plants. Garlic is not only good in salsa, it also helps deter pests organically. Plant garlic near the center of the salsa garden.
- Since tomatoes or tomatillos are one of the main components of salsa, be sure to prune and maintain your plants well. Here are some helpful articles all about growing tomatoes:
- Hand-pick any visible pests, and avoid using chemical pesticides on plants and produce.
Making salsa at home
Making fresh salsa at home is easy and what you’ll get is much more delicious that anything store bought. Here are some of my favorite salsa recipes, and they can all be adjusted for heat level based on what your family enjoys.
Remember, most of the heat of salsa comes from the seeds and membrane of the jalapenos. If you prefer no heat at all, remove most of the membrane and seeds. And always be sure to use gloves or to wash your hands thoroughly after working with hot peppers.