Grow a Salsa Garden in a Jar

Growing your own salsa doesn't have to be as hard as you think.Photo of salsa by Florian

(Ed Note:The weather is warm and garden stores are showing off a wide variety of herbs and vegetables to plant in your garden (if you have  a garden). Here’s a great way to bring fresh flavors to your table with just a little outside space.)

Strawberry jars are urn-shaped containers that have openings or “pockets” on the sides. Originally, they were made for growing strawberries as the jar structure allows the crown of the plant to stay above the soil line, which is important for the plant. The design also keeps the fruit off of the ground. It turns out, these handy jars are excellent for all kinds of planting themes such as growing a salsa garden on your patio or deck.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 Strawberry jar (Terra Cotta or plastic) — or a regular planting container as an alternative.
  • Potting soil
  • Hand trowel
  • 1 Bush tomato plant (a cherry or patio tomato)
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper plant
  • 1 or 2 Cilantro plants
  • 1 or 2 Chive plants
  • 1 or 2 Basil plants

Strawberry jars can be used for Salsa gardens and other fun things alsoPhoto of jar by ccharmon

You’ll find that most strawberry jars are made of terra cotta. While these containers are completely acceptable, they tend to dry out easily and you may have to stay on top of them as far as watering goes. If you can find strawberry jars made of plastic, you won’t have to water as often because they retain moisture longer than their clay counterparts.

About the tomato plants: You’re looking for a bush (determinate) variety as opposed to the vining (indeterminate) type. The cherry and patio varieties happen to stay a little smaller and like living in containers.

How to Plant Your Salsa Garden

1. Fill the strawberry jar with potting soil until it reaches the first set of pockets. Tamp down the soil firmly with your hand.

2. Gently knock a few your choice of herbs (or pepper) out of their little containers. Planting each herb one at a time, push each root ball through one of the pockets guiding it on the inside of the pot with your other hand.

3. Add more potting soil to the jar and fill it up to the next set of pockets. Plant more herbs and add more soil.

4. When the soil level is about 3/4 of the way up the jar, you’ll slide your patio tomato out of its containers and plant it into the top of the strawberry jar.

5. Finish by filling up the rest of the jar and watering it gently, but thoroughly. Place your salsa garden in an area that receives 6-8 hours of direct (full) sun.

Be sure to keep the soil in your newly planted garden moist for the first couple of weeks while the roots take hold.

If you don’t have a strawberry jar and happen to have a large, regular flower pot handy, plant your patio salsa garden into this container instead. Half barrels make exceptional containers for salsa and herb gardening, too. Here’s a video from Angela England that shows how she did a salsa garden in a large container.

You’re now on your way to serving fresh salsa at summer barbecues!

What do you think?