Grit Blogs > The Creative Vegetable Gardener

The Mexican Salsa Kitchen Garden

Salsa is the Mexican word for sauces (usually hot).  Salsa can be added to almost any food and are always a creation waiting to happen.  Today’s cooks like to experiment with salsas by spicing them up by adding fruit or avocado.  Some cooks like to create their own blend by adding anything from the garden from green beans to bell peppers.  Me, I like my salsa fresh, with the basic ingredients of chili peppers, red onion, garlic, tomatillos, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, and lime, salt to taste.  To make salsa just mix all the diced ingredients together and keep refrigerated.

I suggest you experiment with your salsa garden.  Start by collecting salsa recipes and then planting a basic salsa garden that consists of one tomatillo plant, three or four tomato plants, two or three hot pepper plants, garlic and onions.  If you live in a cooler climate you can grow cilantro, but it goes to seed in hotter climates during summer time.  Mix the colors of vegetables up too.  Why not use a yellow Roma tomato, blended with red or even a green Roma.  Tomatillos come in purple and green.  Chili peppers range from green to red to yellow to orange, depending on how long they’re left on the plant.

Let’s start with the one basic ingredient that is at the heart of salsa because it doesn’t have heat, it has volume.   Tomatoes.


Roma  76 days.  Determinate.  A quality paste tomato.  Not of Mexican origin, but well worth planting in the Salsa garden.  It has very thick meaty flesh.  Source:  BAK BOT BURP NES SOU TERR TOT 

Chili Pepper 

Fresno  75 days. Heirloom. Medium hot, 3” long chili primarily used in salsa.  Pendant fruit go from green to red when mature.  Source:  THE 

Jalepeno  (OP) 60 days.  Hot cone-shaped fruit with distinctive meaty flavor.  When smoked they become chipotles.  Use when green or red.  24” plant.  Will produce in cooler conditions.  Source:  ANN BOU GOU SOU THE 

 Jalepeno pepper

 Jalapeno pepper  - Photo courtes Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 

Serrano (OP)  85 days.  Very hot flavor.  2” thin-walled fruit.  30” tall plant.  Widely used in Mexico and the Southwest.  Source:  JOHN THE TOT 


Spanish Roja   Hardneck garlic with true garlic flavor.   Source:  GUR JOHN 


Red burgundy  100 days.  A short day onion.  Mild, sweet flavor.  Large red skinned and fleshed bulbs.  Great choice for salads or hamburgers.  An excellent keeper.  Source:  ANN 

Southport Red  120 days.  Long day onion.  1873 heirloom.  Firm fleshed, medium-sized globe-shaped.  Deep red skin and flesh.   Grows well in the North.  Source:  BAK BOU 


Purple (OP)  78 days.  A bit smaller and more pungent than the green tomatillos.  An easy to grow heirloom.  Deep purple and sweeter than other varieties.   Source:  ANN BAK GOU NES SEED TERR TOT 

 Purple Tomatillo

Purple Tomatillo  - Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange 

Toma Verde 90 days.  Probably the best tomatillo for making salsa.  Gold ball size fruit.  The paper husks split when ripe.  3-4’ bushy plants.  This is a Mexican heirloom.  Source:  ANN BAK BOT SOU 

Seed Sources 

ANN  Annie’s Heirloom Seeds 

BAK  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds 

BOT  Botanical Interests 

BOU  Bountiful Gardens 

BURP  Burpee 

GOU  Gourmet Seed International 

GUR  Gurney’s Seed 

JOHN  John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds 

NES  Neseed 

SEED  Seed Savers Exchange 

SOU  Southern Exposure Seed Exchange 

TERR  Terroir Seeds 

THE  The Pepper Gal 

TOT  Totally Tomatoes 


Karen’s Salsa Recipe

12 (or more) firm Roma tomatoes, diced

1 bulb of garlic, diced the cloves small 

1 red onion, diced

2 Jalapeno peppers

1-2 Fresno peppers and/or 1-2 Serrano peppers

2-3 Tomatillos, diced

Cilantro, chopped

2-3 limes for juice (3 if they aren’t really juicy)

Put all ingredients together in a bowl, squeeze lime juice over the mix, add salt to taste.  Keep refrigerated.

I don’t like mouth burning heat in my salsa, so you can add peppers to suit your taste.  I love salsa on scrambled eggs, and that bit of heat sure adds a pick-me-up in the morning.  Not to mention all the vitamins and minerals it imparts.  Yum…bring on the chips.  Oops, and add a margarita with that. 

© Copyright 2103 by Karen Newcomb