Creating a salsa garden that is hot, hot, hot

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Updated May 2, 2024
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With edible gardens and kitchen gardens on the rise, let’s take a look at another type of vegetable garden that is sure to please those with a love of spicy foods: salsa gardens.

Salsa gardens are fairly simple to construct and allow your customers to have a variety of vegetables at their disposal when the craving for a Mexican feast hits them.

Getting started

To begin, pick a place in the yard that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. Even if your customers have a larger space to work with, a 4Ă—4 foot raised bed or square foot garden will give them more than enough space to grow the ingredients for fresh salsa.

Adding in a trellis on the north side of the bed can also provide extra room for vining tomatoes to grow without shading the other plants.

Divide the bed into one-foot sections to make it easier to map out the growing area so it’s clear where everything is planted in the garden.

What to plant

There are so many options when deciding on what to plant in a salsa garden, so pick your customer’s brain for the tastes and recipes they enjoy before making a choice in plants.

It’s suggested that, when using the 4Ă—4 foot raised bed, the fourth row closest to the trellis should be taken up with tomatoes. For tomatoes, choose varieties that are indeterminate with good flavors, such as the Amish Paste and Juliet. These types are dense, have few seeds, and don’t contain a lot of moisture that would water down the salsa.

Row three could then be a variety of peppers, planting one per square foot. Your customer’s ability to handle heat depends on the types of peppers present in the patch. For hot salsa, chili peppers like habaneras and jalapeños are a good touch. For mild salsa, bell peppers are a good choice and come in bright colors.

Row two could have onions planted nine per square foot, and it can also have garlic. When planting garlic in the fall, it should be planted six per square foot, and in the spring it should be planted nine per square foot. Onion flavors can range from pungent to sweet, so take stock of what’s available in your area. If available, suggest that your customer grow both types to ensure flavor variety.

Larger garlic bulbs are usually planted in the fall, but they can be planted in the spring as soon as it looks like the ground is workable. Spring bulbs will be much smaller but will have the same taste. Garlic chives are also another way to go, and they can add a nice eye-catching element to the garden. These are easy-to-grow perennials and give salsas a great taste.

Row one could feature cilantro planted nine per square foot. Cilantro can add a fresh flavor to the salsa, and it matures quickly in warmer weather. To ensure there’s a steady variety, plant a slow bolt variety and keep seeding it every three weeks or so.

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