Local Llano is looking to spice up the Llano Estacado. Salsa is one of the most common and favored condiments in the United States, and especially so in the Llano Estacado region. From Tex-Mex to the authentic Latin American influences of New Mexico, we sure do appreciate the spice in life. Local Llano is going to walk you through how to plan and plant your own salsa garden to put the freshest salsa on your table this spring and summer. While the intention of this installation was specifically geared for salsa creation, there are so many more applications for this garden. These ingredients can be used to make fresh pico de gallo, accent homemade queso, season your favorite dishes and much, much more. Listed below are Local Llano’s salsa garden essentials, let’s get started.
Tomatoes are going to be the biggest plants in your salsa garden. So placement is key here. You do not want to block the sun for your other plants, so be strategic when you are putting down the seeds or seedlings (which ever route you choose to take). As far as choosing between tomato varieties, Celebrity tomatoes are popular amongst some of our veteran producers at the local farmers markets. These tomatoes do the best in our climate without much produce loss. Celebrity tomatoes are “meaty”, meaning these tomatoes will not “water” down your salsa.
Pepper plants are going to be second largest in your garden, so we suggest you figure out the placement for these beauties next. Pepper plant varieties are completely up to you and the climate of the Llano Estacado. Both sweet and spicy peppers can make an amazing salsa, this is purely up to the preference of the gardener and if the climate will allow the pepper to mature. Often times the varieties of peppers that grow best will change with the weather we are experiencing that spring or summer.
Hot Suggestions: Jalapeno, habanero, manzano, serrano, and chiltepin
Mild/Sweet Suggestions: Anaheim and Joe Parker
Cilantro is one fast growing plant and can be replanted from seed every few weeks (for as long as you want to grow it). Cilantro makes for a great buffer between the pepper and tomato plants from the smaller, more delicate plants. If you are one of the few people that cannot stand cilantro, then it’s fine to exclude this plant from your garden (same goes for the rest of the plants that you see on this list). We only mention this plant because it is a common ingredient found in most salsas.
When considering onion varieties stick close to scallions or green onions. These onion varieties mature quicker than most other onion varieties. Again, this is just another example of the gardeners taste and time table preference.
Garlic takes a good amount of time to mature for harvest. Planting garlic in the spring will result in a late summer collection of the bulbs. In the future, consider planting all you garlic in late fall or early winter for better results and a spring harvest. Garlic is a very low maintenance plant to care for and maintain, a novice gardeners dream come true.
Tomatillo sauce or salsa verde enthusiasts take note, this cousin of a tomato is going to be your favorite plant. Tomatillos give salsa a special tang and are very popular on the Llano Estacado. These plants are easier to grow and less maintenance than a tomato plant. However, tomatillos are not self-fertile and you will need to plant several plants to ensure you have enough to last you the summer.
Twists on the Tried and True
If you consider yourself adventurous in taste, consider these twists Local Llano has put together for our less conventional readers. Consider incorporating a few sweet surprises into your salsa recipe: peaches, strawberries, apples, melons, kiwis or any other fresh fruit of your preference.
We hope you find this edition of DIY Gardening both helpful and inspirational. Join us again next week for a local producer that has us ‘mooing’ over their sustainable ranching methods! And as always, support your community and eat locally!