Seeing a $5.99 price for a jar about the size of a coffee cup finally did it. Why pay for salsa when you can plant your own salsa garden?
Whether you live in a part of the United States where salsa appears at every meal or you dream of a great Mexican dish while eating seafood in Virginia, the idea of growing your own salsa isn’t far-fetched. It’s certainly one way to avoid the sodium and preservatives packed into so many packaged foods sold commercially.
According to the Food Timeline, salsa is a combination of chili peppers, tomatoes and other spices, depending on how its maker decides to flavor the recipe. Its origins go back to the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas.
Planning your salsa garden
One of the most comprehensive references on planting a salsa garden is SalsaGarden.com. There are some important steps involved in planning this type of garden.
Determine size and location. You’ll need a spot that receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day and that’s close to a source of water. It’s usually best to start on a small scale, such as a bed that’s either 5 X 5 feet or 6 X 10 feet.
Get a soil analysis. In many areas, a county extension service staff member will submit it for you. The results will tell you if you need to improve the soil in your plot.
Remove any sod. To eliminate as much grass and roots as possible, dig down three or four inches with a shovel. You can also purchase or rent manual and power sod cutters.
Adjust soil content. Make any adjustments the soil analysis recommends. While many first-time gardeners are tempted to skip this step, it’s essential for good results.
Apply herbicide. If you used starter plants instead of seeds, at least consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide to the soil. Skip this step if you’re going straight from seeds.
Select your plants. SalsaGarden.com has many recommendations on specific varieties of vegetables you might want to plant. Basically, you’ll want to select and grow at least four or five of the following: tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, garlic, peppers, chilies and herbs.
Planting the garden
Seeds. When planting seeds, bury them two to three times the depth of their diameter.
Starter plants. If you use starter plants instead, buy them just as deep as you found them in their containers. Just make sure any danger of freezing has passed before you attempt to plant anything.
On a weekly basis, you’ll need to do four things: water, weed, fertilize and harvest your salsa garden.
If you have no space for a garden plot, you can still grow the ingredients for a tasty salsa. You’ll need containers and plenty of sun. The containers need to have good drainage and should be big enough to accommodate mature plants.
Use a good potting soil with peat and fill your containers nearly full. As your plants grow, keep in mind that water will evaporate faster from a clay pot than from pots made of plastic or glazed pottery. Make sure your plants get plenty of sun and water.
Salsa garden kits
These kits are very popular and make unusual gifts for the person who has everything else. They also provide hours of fun and educational activity for children working with adults. Prices range from around $12 to $45 plus shipping.
The Mexican Salsa Kit available from HerbKits.com contains a 12″ x 12″ x 5″ greenhouse that’s ideal for small spaces. It’s also made from recycled plastic. The kit comes with 12 types of seeds.
Most kits are convenient ways to start plants for salsa without a lot of mess. When the plants are ready, you transplant them either directly into the ground or into large containers.
When you want to plant a salsa garden, what could be easier?
Food Timeline site