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Green Gardening: Grow a Salsa Garden

by Samantha Schwartz

Tags: salsa garden, container garden,

I can’t avoid the signs any longer. I must grow a salsa garden. I can’t wait to look out my kitchen window and see the sun shining on my bright red Roma tomatoes, green onions, leafy cilantro and Serrano peppers that morph from green to orange as they mature.  

 This month, I’ve had three salsa garden omens:

1. I visited the Dole Institute of Politics in Lawrence, Kansas, this past week, and we were divided into groups and given an issue to present for our final project. Our topic was childhood obesity. Connor, a natural food advocate, told us all about how his family grows their own ingredients to make salsa. They can salsa for all their friends and family because everyone loves the fresh flavors.

2. I met Marci Francisco of the Kansas Senate. I asked her about organic farming initiatives in Kansas. I told her that although I’d love to buy organic, organic options are considerably more expensive. She asked if I had a garden, and I sheepishly shook my head no. I told her I’d love to start with something easy, like cilantro. Get this! She invited me to come over and get cilantro seeds from her house. How’s that for public service?

3. Natural Home just added a new gardening blog, and I want to get in on the fun.

Also, salsa is high in flavor but low in fat and calories. Without the sodium and preservatives found in store-bought salsa, my natural salsa will be a natural, healthy condiment.

I have decided to grow my salsa garden in a container on my patio. If the gardening goes well, maybe we will clear space for a real garden in our backyard. I need to choose a spot that will get at least 6 hours of a sun per day.

After deciding between a container and an outdoor garden, I discovered three more choices I needed to make: Should I grow the garden using a transplant or seeds? What plants should I choose? What’s the best way to care for my salsa garden?

Here’s what I have chosen for my salsa garden:


Transplant or seed?





In a container garden, a transplant tomato plant is often easier to control.


Roma tomatoes are small but still packed with flavor—ideal for salsa.

-Use a pot at least 12 inches in diameter and purchase a tomato cage. Tomatoes get big.

-Plant so that only a couple inches of stem are visible.

-Feed weekly with fertilizer.

-Harvest when ripe but still firm.



Seed, then Transplant

Grow the peppers in small pots until they reach 2 inches in height, then transplant.


Serrano peppers are quite popular in salsas because they do not have to be steamed or peeled before use. They do carry some heat. Check out this visual pepper guide for more information.

-Use a pot 12 inches in diameter and provide a support post for the plant.

-Place in a very sunny location.

-Serrano peppers will grow to be 2-8 inches tall and the plant itself will become 2-3 feet tall.

-Small flowers on the plant will appear where peppers will sprout.

-Peppers change from green to orange to red as they mature.



Though onions from seeds are hardier, my onions won’t need to brave the elements much.


Green onions take up less space in a container garden.

-Plant in deep, fertile soil.

-Onions need to be watered more than most vegetables.





I’ve heard cilantro is pretty easy to grow with seeds, even for a beginner.


-Place 1/4-inch deep in soil with a thin layer of soil on top.

-Trim off flower heads to let the plant focus on growing leaves.

-Harvest when the plant is 6 inches tall.

-Sow seeds again every three weeks to replenish supply.

Try these helpful gardening and salsa-themed websites if you’d like to try a variation on my salsa garden!

If you want to simplify the process, you may want to purchase a salsa garden kit. The kit includes three varieties of tomato seeds, five varieties of pepper seeds, onion seeds and cilantro seeds along with measured fertilizer packets, a garden tray and an instruction sheet for $30.

Get your salsa garden growing with one of these convenient kits. Photo Courtesy

Try this simple salsa recipe (or more complex recipes if you dare):

1 cup finely diced tomato

2 sliced green onions, including green tops

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons lime juice

3 fresh Fresno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and chill 24 hours. 

Have any gardening tips? Are you interested in or already growing your own salsa ingredients? Leave a comment!