Grow an Organic Salsa Garden

Homemade Fresh Salsa Homemade Fresh Salsa

Salsa is a food that many people find hard to swallow. It's often too spicy, goopy and lacking in fresh garden flavor (or sometimes any flavor except oniony, mouth-numbing heat).

I combine these vegetable varieties to make a mild, flavorful salsa.

  • Tomatoes--Fresh Salsa
  • Onions--Candy
  • Cilantro-- Delfino
  • Jalapenos--Fooled You
  • Hot Pepper--Czech Black

Fresh salsa and canned salsa are as different as night and day. Many would say that the former is a spoonful (or chipful) of heaven and the latter is inedible. However, good organic salsa ingredients such as cilantro, specialty peppers and sweet onions are often hard to find at your local supermarket or farmer's market. Instead of searching high and low for them, have some fun growing an organic salsa garden.

Make your salsa unique and just the way you like it by growing special vegetable varieties. The "hot heads" out there can grow flavorful, yet unbearably hot peppers such as Cherry Bomb or Hot Paper Lantern (a giant, extra-colorful habanero). Those who prefer very mild peppers can try out delicious, mild jalapeno varieties such as Delicias (which has a touch of heat) or Fooled You (my favorite) which has absolutely none.

Tomatoes are the heart of most salsa. Meaty, flavorful, nearly juiceless tomatoes that keep their shape and firm texture when chopped really enhance a salsa. The Burpee seed company has developed a tomato called Fresh Salsa that, according to them is "all meat"- ideal for tasty salsas, bruschettas and "light" Italian sauces.

This year, I grew Fresh Salsa tomatoes and found that they are indeed meaty and easy (and not messy--even in large quantities) to chop. They hold their shape well which leads to beautiful salsas that don't dribble a liquid mess all over when you dip your chips. They are not the most flavorful tomatoes--I call them the Iceberg lettuce of tomatoes--but I mean that in the nicest possible way. These tomatoes taste cool, crisp and sweet, which, in my mind, are the most endearing characteristics of Iceberg. In the garden, they are of medium vigor and seem somewhat susceptible to early blight, a disease that can be minimized through the use of drip irrigation and mulch. These tomatoes are well worth growing if you want good-looking salsa.

To make salsa, mix and match different types of herbs including cilantro and oregano with onions, tomatoes and peppers and you'll have a treat with which to top a chip or fill a burrito. I have had great success following the Fresh Salsa recipe in my Fannie Farmer Cookbook (1996 edition). Salsa can be frozen or canned in order to extend its shelf life. So, if you grow an organic salsa garden this summer, you can still be saying "ole" well into winter!

Read a NY Times article about Burpee's Fresh Salsa Tomatoes

View a huge number of salsa recipes at


See Also:
There's a Goosefoot in my Garden
It's Easy to Grow Great Garlic
How Does Your Garden Grow Part One: Getting to Know Your Soil
Bountiful Basil

Digg! digg it

Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at tammy@bluehorizonfarm.com.