Get your kids or grandkids excited about gardening and show them how much fun it is to grow your own food! Making your own fresh salsa is fun and easy…and not to mention healthy (although you don’t have to tell the kids that!). Fresh salsas tend to be low in calories, high in fiber and full of vitamins. Plus, they don’t contain many of the additives, preservatives and salt found in most store-bought versions. When growing your own ‘Salsa Plants’ you have control over how your food is grown and are always guaranteed the freshest produce.
Try some All-America Selections (AAS) winners listed below! Winning year is in parenthesis.
Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)
Peppers (Capsicum annuum)
Onions (Allium cepa)
Garlic (Allium sativum)
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
If you choose to start your salsa plants from seed, start indoors beginning in late March. Follow the instructions on the seed packets, as each type of plant may have different growing requirements. Most prefer full sun and regular watering. If you don’t have the space to start seeds indoors, you can simply buy your plants from your local nursery or greenhouse.
Whether you are starting seeds indoors or purchasing plants, make sure to plant outside after all danger of frost has passed, usually by the end of May in Wisconsin. Choose a location for your salsa plants that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. To get the most productivity out of your garden, remember to weed, water, fertilize and harvest on a weekly basis throughout the season.
Emerald Fire Jalapeno Pepper (pictured)
Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum ‘Emerald Fire’
Common Name: Emerald Fire jalapeno pepper
Size: 30-40” tall, 18” wide
Light: Full Sun
Days to Harvest (from Transplant): 90
2015 All-America Selections winner
The key ingredient to any good salsa is a good jalapeno. Measuring in at 2,500 Scoville units, this pepper is great not only for making salsa, but also for stuffing and grilling. Emerald Fire’s extra-large fruits are thick-walled and less prone to cracking than other cultivars. The plants are compact, yet very prolific. Consistent soil moisture is key for bountiful fruit set and uniform heat amongst the fruit. We grew this cultivar in the garden last year and were very impressed with its performance.
New this year, you can purchase ‘Grow Gardens Grow Salsa’ kits in the WPS Trellis Gift Shop! You can also visit the All-America Selections website (www.all-americaselections.org), visit your local nursery or greenhouse or purchase plants at our annual Garden Fair in June. Don’t forget to take this article with you when you go shopping! Keep in mind, the types and quantities of plants you use will depend on your favorite salsa recipe and how much you plan on making.
Make sure to check out the Children’s Garden Patch this summer where we will be cultivating the ‘Grow Gardens Grow Salsa’ kit! We will also be demonstrating several other methods of growing vegetables, showcasing many of the AAS Winners.