how to grow a salsa garden - planting and growing.

How to Grow a Salsa Garden: Step-by-Step Guide for Fresh Homemade Salsa

Does your family enjoy salsa? If so, have you considered growing all the ingredients for it in your garden? Planting a salsa garden is such a fun and creative way to plan out your garden beds. And the best part is, you will have all the fresh ingredients on hand for delicious homemade salsa right at your fingertips. Today I’m going to share a quick guide on everything you need to start a salsa garden.

This year, I’ve dedicated two raised beds to create my salsa garden. You can make it all work in one raised bed, in-ground plot, or even in containers. So let’s jump in and get started:

How to Grow a Salsa Garden: Step-by-Step Guide for Fresh Homemade Salsa

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1. Choose the Right Location for Your Salsa Garden

Before you begin planting, make sure you choose a good location for your salsa garden. Salsa ingredients like tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs need full sun and well-drained soil. By choosing a good location, you can ensure that your plants will have the best opportunity for growing successfully.

2. Decide on a layout

Decide on the best layout for your salsa garden. This can be a raised bed where you map out each square foot, or a tradition in-ground plot with different rows for different ingredients. Before you begin planting, make sure you to read your seed packets for proper spacing so you don’t end up with crowded beds, overflowing containers, or unhappy plants.

3. Selecting Your Salsa Garden Plants

The base ingredients for salsa include: Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, and Herbs. Let me give you a few pointers on selecting these plants.

  • Tomatoes: The ideal tomato varieties will be paste tomatoes like Roma, Amish Paste, and Marzano. These have less seeds and water content than the other tomato varieties and will work much better for making salsa. You can start tomatoes seeds indoors, or purchase tomato starts at your local nursery.
  • Peppers: Peppers bring the heat, so choose what you and your family will eat. Some popular salsa peppers include: bell (mild), jalapeño (medium), serrano (medium), habanero (hot). You can start pepper seeds indoors before the first frost, or purchase pepper plants at your local nursery.
  • Onions: You can grow any type of onion you want. However, white onions are the traditional choice for salsa. It’s got a good crunch a punch of a flavor that does linger too long. Purchasing onion sets or bulbs are usually the best route for growing onions as a beginner gardener.
  • Garlic: You can grow any hard or soft neck variety of garlic for your salsa. I would recommend planting the garlic cloves in the fall and then harvesting them the following summer.
  • Herbs: Salsa herbs are typically cilantro and oregano. Cilantro can fairly easily be grown from seeds whereas you might have better success purchasing an Oregano starter plant from a local nursery.

4. Spacing and Planting Tips for Each Ingredient

Another great benefit of planting a salsa garden is that all the plants are companion plants. Meaning, they all complement each other and thrive growing within the same space together. Therefore, choosing a layout that puts all the ingredients in close proximity works well. Here’s a quick guide on spacing and planting:

  • Tomatoes should be planted 18-20inches apart. (If you are doing square foot gardening, you can do one plant per square foot.) They can be planted in ground after the danger of frost has past and the night time temperatures stay above 50 degrees.
  • Peppers need to be spaced about 18 inches apart (or one plant per square foot). Peppers don’t like being cold, so wait to plant until after the danger of frost has past and the night time temperatures stay above 60 degrees.
  • Onions can be planted about 6 inches apart (or 6-9 onions per square foot depending on your variety of choice.) Onions don’t mind being started outdoors in the cooler temperatures, I usually start mine in late March or April when the ground can be worked. (I am in zone b.)
  • Garlic can be planted about 6 inches apart (or 6-9 bulbs per square foot depending on your variety of choice.)
  • Cilantro should be planted 2 inches apart (or 9 plants per square foot). Cilantro seeds can be planted outdoors after the last frost. It does better in cooler temps and you will need to succession plant if you want to harvest it throughout the summer season.
  • Oregano plants should be about 8-12 inches apart (or one plant per square foot). Oregano can be planted in the spring. This is a hardy perennial herb that if you keep from flowering, it will produce all summer.

5. Mulching Your Salsa Garden

Since all of your ingredients for salsa are all full-sun vegetables, I would recommend that you lay a mulch cover over the soil to help with retaining moisture and keeping the roots cool on those long summer days. Some common forms of mulch include: wood chips, hay, straw, compost, and pine needles.

I like to use hay, because it’s what we have on hand for our chickens, and it seems to work pretty well.

6. Feeding, Watering, and Keeping Pests Away

All plants need food and water to keep growing. As you are tending to your salsa garden make sure it is getting plenty of water and is being fertilized during the different stages of growth.

NOTE: I like to fertilize with the Espoma Organic Tomato Tone and the Espoma Organic Vegetable Tone throughout the growing season.

Are you having pest problems? Try diatomaceous earth and check out our DIY garden cloches!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. I may earn a commission from sales made. Thank you!

    7. Harvesting Your Salsa Ingredients

    You’ve planned your layout, planted your ingredients, nurtured your plants and now you finally begin to reap the harvest! If your onions or garlic are done early, do an onion braid or garlic braid and hang them in a cool dry place until you are ready for them. If the peppers come in early, you can freeze or can them.

    I usually wait until the bulk of the tomatoes start coming in before I start making the salsa. And after that, its fresh salsa and pico for weeks to come. Yum!

    8. Make some 10 minute Salsa!

    Now it’s time to gather your homegrown salsa garden ingredients and put them together to make a salsa your family will enjoy! Here is my favorite ten-minute salsa recipe that keeps my family coming back for more:

    ten minute salsa -

    Ten-Minute Salsa

    This salsa recips is so easy, is made with only a few fresh ingredients, and can be served with a bowl of tortilla chips in 10 minutes flat!


    • 6-8 fresh paste tomatoes (Roma, Manzano, or Amish Paste)
    • 1/2 cup white onion
    • 2 cloves of fresh garlic
    • One Jalapeño pepper (substitute Serrano or Bell for a more mild spice)
    • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
    • salt (to taste)
    • sugar (to taste)
    • lemon juice (to taste)


    1. Add the peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
    2. Next, dice the tomatos. (I like to dice by hand for slightly bigger chunks, but if you perfer finely diced tomatoes for your salsa, you can add them to the food processor with the other ingredients.)
    3. Add lemon juice, sugar, and salt to taste. Mix well and drain off any liquid before serving.


    • If you don't have a food processor, don't let that stop you from trying this recipe, you can easily dice everything by hand!
    • You could substitue the sugar with a fruit of choice like pineapple. mango, or kiwi.
    • This recipe can be tweaked to fit your taste buds. Switch up your peppers and experiment with sweetners to make it your own.

    Growing a salsa garden can be so fun and rewarding. The satisfaction of planning and harvesting your own ingredients is unmatched when you lay that bowl of homegrown, fresh salsa on the table alongside a bowl of mouth-watering, salty tortilla chips. I hope you feel inspired to try a salsa garden this year! Happy Gardening!

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