Theme Gardens: Let's Grow Tomato Salsa
Do you LOVE salsa? Me too! While at the grocery store picking out the ingredients for salsa, it dawned on me that I could grow almost all of them in the back yard! Let's plan a salsa garden! It can be in the garden or on the patio in pots. We will have the freshest salsa in town, and it will be exactly how we like it, a little spicy to fire breathing dragon!
There are many, many recipes for salsa, often depending on your location. Most of them start with the basics, so that is what we will plan to grow in our gardens. You are always welcome to add or subtract to make the salsa garden meet the ingredients you like. I don't have a large garden, so I'm going to start small with just a few plants.
Tomato salsa starts with, what else, tomatoes! My recipe call for a mix of tomatoes, a Roma paste and a slicing tomato, such as Better Boy. I purchased one Roma plant and a 6 pack of Better Boys. Since I already have stakes and cages, so I won't have that added expense. The extra Better Boys will be used for salads and sandwiches, too. There will be more than enough tomatoes from these plants.
One green pepper plant should produce 1 to 2 dozen peppers over the life of the plant, depending on your growing season. For salsa, I really only need one plant, but if I had room I'd do more, for sharing and freezing them chopped or stuffed and ready to go in the oven.
Now, my husband likes salsa so hot it makes his head sweat. I'll add the Jalapeno Pepper AFTER I take out my servings, or make two bowls. Be careful when you handle these peppers. I put a plastic sandwich bag over my hand when I pick them, and when I squeeze the juice or chop the pepper.
My onions were planted about a month ago from sets, about a penny or two per onion. I like yellow onions for my salsa.
Can you believe the total cost of all these plants was under $5? If you start them from seeds, it is even cheaper. Just think how much money you will save for the perfect salsa! The recipe below is a good starting place, but the internet will supply more recipes than you could ever make in a lifetime if you google "salsa recipe".
Quick and Simple Salsa
4 Roma Tomatoes, chopped
2 Better Boy Tomatoes, chopped
1 medium Onion, diced (I like a yellow onion)
3 or 4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 green Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
¼ - ½ fresh Jalapeno Pepper, seeded and minced (add a little, taste, add a little more if needed)
Juice from 1/2 fresh Lime
1/2 tsp Salt, (I don't eat salt, so I leave it out)
Black Pepper to taste
Combine the ingredients in a large bowl, then cover it and put it in the fridge to chill and let the flavors get to know each other awhile. Serve with chips, cheese or how I like it, over a baked potato (very low calorie!)
Some other plants you can grow that are good in salsa include cilantro & tomatillos. There is lots of information on Dave's Garden for growing veggies in containers, or try this website.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 15, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)