Homemade Garden Salsa: Creating A Fun Salsa Garden For Kids


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Garden fresh salsa is a south of the border condiment or sauce that has become common in the North American home. The spicy sauce is easy to make when the cook has access to a salsa garden. So what is a salsa garden? Salsa gardens contain most of the ingredients needed for the condiment. Growing a salsa garden for kids provides a fun outdoor family learning project with delicious results.

What is a Salsa Garden?

Salsa gardens should include the basic components of homemade garden salsa:

  • tomatoes or tomatillos
  • hot peppers
  • garlic
  • cilantro
  • onions or chives

Hot peppers need a long growing season and usually produce best if started indoors and transplanted out after the chance of frost has passed. There are many varieties of tomato to choose from, but a firmly fleshed fruit is best for garden fresh salsa. Tangy tomatillos are excellent in salsa verde, a green milder version of the red salsa.

Plant the necessary ingredients in a sunny, warm location of the garden.

Salsa Garden for Kids

Children love gardening and it is an excellent way to teach them where food comes from and gives them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility. Even small children can be involved in growing salsa gardens.

Start seeds indoors in small pots and give kids the task to keep them watered. Guide children to prepare the soil and plant out their little starts. Kids love watching the fruits and vegetables grow.

Choosing Plants for Salsa Gardens

Choose a tomato variety that will produce fruit in your growing zone. You may use any type of tomato in garden fresh salsa, but the meatier varieties with less seeds give a thicker sauce. The following are some good options:

  • Early Girl
  • Roma
  • Sweet Million cherry
  • Better Boy

Any variety of onion will do, but Walla Walla adds a sweet bite to the salsa.

Peppers are a key ingredient in salsa. If you want a mild sauce, use bell peppers in any color. For some zip, plant jalapenos, which mature green and add a good kick. Hotter peppers such as habanero or scotch bonnet are perfect for punishingly hot sauces. These hotter varieties need a long growing season to produce the spiciest fruits. Note: Care should be taken when using hot peppers in a salsa garden for kids.

Making Homemade Garden Salsa

The size of the dice on the fruits and vegetables will yield sauces of different consistency. If you want a thinner sauce, you can even lightly pulse the ingredients in a food processor. Finely diced tomatoes and other ingredients make the best blend, where you get a well-rounded bit of every item that went into the salsa.

Cube, dice or puree the tomatoes, peppers, onions or chives, and cilantro and then add a bit of vinegar, lime or lemon to round out the flavors. A little salt, or even sugar, can help enhance those flavors and produce a sweeter taste. It really depends how you like your salsa.

Play around with different combinations and amounts until you make a homemade garden salsa that suits you and your family. Then open a bag of tortilla chips and invite some friends over to impress them with the results of your salsa garden.

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Homemade, Fresh Garden Salsa Recipe

What do big events such as birthdays, bar mitzvahs and college game days have in common? You may be inclined to think family, friends and good times, but these are only minor similarities compared to the big one. These occasions all involve snacks! And, if you know anything about the Garden In Minutes team snacking preferences, the best snack by a mile is salsa!

Well…salsa AND something to scoop it with.

To prepare for a party, we typically head over to our respective supermarkets and purchase all the basics: burgers, hot dogs, buns, condiments, potato salad, chips, salsa, that wheel of vegetables with the ranch in the middle. Instead of feeding everyone something store-bought, why not feature a little appetizer from your own backyard ? You obviously can’t grow hot dogs and hamburgers (…sigh), but you can make fresh garden salsa (using our recipe below) with the vegetables from your own raised garden!

In ten minutes, you’ll collect the necessary ingredients right from the plants in your garden. In another ten minutes, you will be putting the finishing touches on homemade garden salsa that will surely impress your guests, not to mention save you at least a couple bucks at the grocery store.

There are many varieties of salsa to choose from and endless ways to tweak current salsa recipes. Our fresh garden salsa recipe below will turn out right about in the middle of the heat spectrum – medium spiciness if you will. If you want to spice up your salsa more, or turn down the heat, simply vary the amount of Jalapeno peppers that you add to the salsa recipe.

Below we’ll quickly highlight:

  1. What you can grow to make fresh garden salsa.
  2. Ingredients you’ll need, but cant grow in a garden.
  3. How much of each ingredient you’ll need to make garden salsa.
  4. Prep time.
  5. Four simple steps to turn your ingredients into Fresh Garden Salsa!

What you can Grow:

  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Peppers – Sweet
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic

Not growing yet? Here’s our planting guide on How to Grow a Salsa Garden.


Salsa Recipes

For the ambitious, Salsa Recipes For Canning, has wonderful recipes for all types of salsa. Here’s a couple of quick, easy recipes you can serve your family minutes after you harvest!

Fresh Tomato Salsa

3/4 pound tomatoes, seeded and finely diced (1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 small fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, finely chopped, including seeds, or more to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season to taste with chile, lime juice, and salt. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to two days. Before serving, stir well, and drain off any excess liquid if desired.

Cabbage Salsa

6 cups chopped cabbage
2 cups diced white onion (about 1 large)
2 green jalapeños, diced (leave seeds out for a milder salsa)
2 red jalapeños, diced
7 roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup diced radish
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
2 limes, juice only
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)


Creating Salsa Gardens - Growing Your Own Garden Fresh Salsa - garden

By the end of the lesson, participants will be able to:

  • Describe at least three benefits of growing fruits and vegetables.
  • Name four principles of gardening.
  • Describe at least three recipes that incorporate tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro.

Materials

  • Potting Soil
  • 12-inch pots or empty 1-gallon plastic milk, water or juice containers (three pots or containers per participant)
  • Small tomato plants
  • Small jalapeño pepper plants
  • Cilantro seeds
  • A gardening trowel
  • Plastic gloves, if desired
  • A container of water
  • A dry-erase board or large sheets of paper
  • Markers
  • The Pico de Gallo recipe handout (p. H – 9)

Preparation

  • At station one, place the potting soil, pots or containers, gardening trowel, and plastic gloves.
  • At station two, place the small tomato plants.
  • At station three, place the small jalapeño pepper plants.
  • At station four, place the cilantro seeds.
  • At station five, place a container of water.
  • Instructions

    • Provide enough soil for the plants.
    • Provide enough sunlight for the plants.
    • Provide adequate water for the plants.
    • Fertilize the plants, as needed.
    • At station two, have each participant plant a small tomato plant in one pot or container.
    • At station three, have each participant plant a small jalapeño pepper plant in another pot or container.
    • At station four, have each participant plant cilantro seeds in the remaining pot or container according to the seed packet instructions.
    • At station five, have each participant gently water their plants and seeds.
  • Expansion Ideas

    Grow Your Own Salad Bowl

    Make a salad bowl by growing the items you would use in a salad, such as lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, and bell peppers.

    Garden Fresh Herbs

    Create an herb garden in a strawberry pot by planting oregano, parsley, cilantro, mint, rosemary, and other herbs. Use these herbs to dress up healthy recipes.


    Mary's Heirloom Seeds

    Who doesn't like Salsa? There are so many variations of Salsa, mild to hot, mango to jalapeno and even green tomato salsa. Creating a Salsa Garden is easy!

    My first suggestion, Coconut Pellets! I don't care where you get them from but they make seed-starting "oh so easy." Before you just go crazy and start planting all of the seeds it's important to decide which varieties you would like to include and how long each will take to mature.

    Onions:
    Not everyone likes onions in their salsa. I do! I prefer a red onion. The Red Burgundy onion matures in approximately 100 days. If you decide to grow this onion it should be planted first. If you choose a bunching onion or a "green onion" you can wait on planting. Bunching onion varieties take about 40-60 days to mature.

    Tomatoes:
    I prefer to use a smaller tomato for salsa like the Ace 55 or Roma. A larger option is a Brandywine. Both varieties take approx 75-80 days to mature so they should be started one month after the onion (if you chose the red). For fancy salsa, try Emerald Green or Amana's Orange tomatoes

    Peppers:
    For a mild salsa you can use Anaheim instead. For a hot (or hotter) salsa I use Jalapenos. For the crazy, burn you mouth for a week salsa, use Serrano Peppers! These pepper varieties also take 70-80 days to mature and should be planted at the same time as the tomatoes.

    Cilantro planting should be staggered throughout the year. By planting multiple cilantro plants it will allow you to harvest as you need it instead of all at once. Plant Cilantro at least 30 days before the rest of the Salsa Garden plants mature. I recommend planting another crop the following week.

    Recap-
    Onions: 100 or 40 days
    Tomatoes: 75-80 days
    Peppers: 70-80 days
    Cilantro: 30 days


    Mary's Heirloom Seeds

    Who doesn't like Salsa? There are so many variations of Salsa, mild to hot, mango to jalapeno and even green tomato salsa. Creating a Salsa Garden is easy! Mary's Heirloom Seeds has made things even easier with Mary's Salsa Pack Seed Combo!

    My first suggestion, Coconut Pellets! They make seed-starting "oh so easy." Before you just go crazy and start planting all of the seeds it's important to decide which varieties you would like to include and how long each will take to mature.

    Onions:
    Not everyone likes onions in their salsa. I do! I prefer a red onion. The Red Burgundy onion matures in approximately 100 days. If you decide to grow this onion it should be planted first. If you choose a bunching onion or a "green onion" you can wait on planting. Bunching onion varieties take about 40 days to mature.

    Tomatoes:
    I prefer to use a smaller tomato for salsa like the Ace 55 or Roma. Both varieties take approx 75-80 days to mature so they should be started one month after the onion (if you chose the red). A larger option is a Beefsteak. For fancy salsa, try Emerald Green or Amana's Orange tomatoes.

    Peppers:
    For a mild salsa you can use Anaheim instead. For a hot (or hotter) salsa I use Jalapenos. For the crazy, burn your mouth for a week salsa, use Serrano Peppers or Habanero! These pepper varieties also take 70-80 days to mature and should be planted at the same time as the tomatoes.

    Cilantro planting should be staggered throughout the year. By planting multiple cilantro plants it will allow you to harvest as you need it instead of all at once. Plant Cilantro at least 30 days before the rest of the Salsa Garden plants mature. I recommend succession planting Cilantro for a plentiful harvest.

    I love growing Cilantro
    Recap-
    Onions: 100 or 40 days
    Tomatoes: 75-80 days
    Peppers: 70-80 days
    Cilantro: 30 days

    In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, tomatillo, and salt to taste. Mix well. Add 1/2 of the jalapeno pepper, and taste. If you desire your salsa with more of a kick, add the remaining 1/2 jalapeno. If you are satisfied with the salsa's heat, do not add the remaining jalapeno pepper. Cover the salsa, and chill until ready to serve.

    Mary's Salsa Pack is available @ Mary's Heirloom Seeds for only $18.
    (Gift wrap not included)

    Make wonderful homemade salsa fresh from the garden!
    One packet of each. Includes:
    - Thessaloniki Tomato
    -Jalapeno Pepper
    -Anaheim Pepper
    -Red Burgundy Onion
    -Cilantro

    A great addition to Mary's Salsa Pack is the natural and Organic Soil Amendments.

    I use DIY Organic Liquid Plant Food on my own veggies and I love it! The difference in plant growth, flowering and crops has been fantastic.


  • Watch the video: $8 Kiddie Pool Raised Bed Garden. Salsa Garden


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