Summer in the vegetable garden is the perfect time to grow all of the ingredients for fresh salsa or pico de gallo, and homemade salsa is so much better than what you can buy at the grocery store.
Wondering how to grow a salsa garden in your own 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 your own salsa 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, including my favorite varieties of tomato plants and pepper plants, so you can have fresh vegetable dip for tortilla chips and to top fish and meat dishes. Salsa can definitely be for more than just Mexican food, though we’re not going to complain about that!
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. The exceptions being garlic, which should be planted in the fall for a spring harvest, and citrus trees which will require a few years of growth before they can produce lemons or limes for juicing.
Most other salsa vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and onions need warmer days to produce well.
Dwarf lemon or lime trees can be grown indoors in containers year-round and used as houseplants. The trees will still produce full-sized citrus fruits in the fall or winter.
Where to Grow a Salsa Garden
The best place to grow a salsa garden whether that’s on a patio, porch, or yard would be a warm spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day. A sunny spot is essential for tomatoes and peppers especially which thrive in very warm weather.
Cilantro can stand to be in partial shade since it can have the tendency to bolt in the hot mid-summer heat.
Plants to Grow 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 container garden, garden bed, or row garden. Even lemons and limes can be grown in a home garden for juicing into a salsa recipe.
Here are some of the basic ingredients for most varieties of salsa:
- Tomatoes: the type of tomato you grow will depend on the type of salsa you want. Pico de Gallo will use a juicer tomato like a beefsteak or Cherokee purple, but thicker restaurant style salsas need roma tomatoes or paste tomatoes since they have less juice and less seeds. Amish paste is a good variety for this.
- Sweet pepper: for those who may not want hot salsa
- Jalapeno: or other variety of hot chili peppers. See my post about the Best Hot Peppers to Grow
- 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. If you didn’t grow garlic in the fall to use for salsa in the summer, consider garlic chives as a fresh alternative since they’re easy to grow almost any time of year.
The same is true for full sized onions. If you didn’t grow these in the spring garden, consider a small crop of green onions which will be ready to harvest quickly and still taste delicious in your own homemade salsa.
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. See my post on Natural Pest Control Tips.
- Feed the plants in your salsa garden with a good organic fertilizer once a month. The tomatoes especially are heavy feeders, so feeding the plants well will yield a better harvest.
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.
- Zesty Pico de Gallo recipe
- Homemade Salsa Verde recipe by Cookie and Kate
- Best Salsa for Canning from Mel’s Kitchen
I hope you decide to try growing a salsa garden at home this year! I’d love to know what choices you made for your own garden!