Salsa is the most popular condiment in America, and a nutritious addition to any meal. By choosing the best varieties of vegetables to grow in pots, you can be making your own fresh salsa as early as July. Once you grow your own salsa, you may never again eat salsa purchased from the store. Every ingredient you grow will be of gourmet quality, and you will be able to blend your new favorite varieties of vegetables and herbs for the best tasting salsa.
Picante sauce or salsa can be made out of anything you like, including fruit. Mexican salsa is often made of garden vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro, plus other ingredients which are typically purchased from a store such as sea salt and vinegar. Any of the vegetables are easy to grow, so you can grow salsa in containers by choosing varieties that stay small.
How to Choose Vegetables to Grow Salsa in Containers
Growing heirloom vegetables has the advantage of being a one-time investment for seeds. Heirloom and open pollinated vegetables retain their genetics without being protected from crossbreeding with different varieties, so you can save your own seed instead of having to purchase new seed when you run out. Most seed packets contain enough seed to last for several years for a family, and most vegetable seeds will store in a cool, dark, dry location for several years. Heirlooms vegetables have stood the test of time, and often have interesting stories about where they came from and how they came to be preserved as a species.
Even though sometimes the plant tag or seed packet do not list specific diseases that they are resistant to, heirlooms are often quite resilient in extreme conditions as well as resistant to diseases. Heirlooms have been chosen over decades for their flavor and superior traits, and taste better than hybrids or store varieties. Hybrids have been chosen for other qualities besides their flavor, like being able to store for long periods, for having all the fruits on the plant maturing at the same time for timely harvests, or for appearance. Saving seeds from hybrid plants is futile, since the next generation will not resemble the generation you chose to plant originally.
How to Save Seeds for Heirloom Vegetables
To save seeds, choose the best fruit from the earliest maturing plants to get the best results. Exceptions to this would be plants that tend to bolt such as lettuce and cilantro. For these you would want to choose the plants that held out the longest before bolting. In a few years, you will have heirloom seeds that not only stood the test of time, but have been further selected to thrive in your location and your soil type. Suzanne Ashworth’s book, Seed to Seed, is an excellent resource which is respected by professionals and amateurs alike for learning how to save seeds of every commonly grown variety of food plant.
The Best Type Of Soil for Growing Vegetables in Pots
When growing vegetables in pots, the roots will be confined to the container so you will need to supply everything they need in a timely manner. Quality soil, timely feeding and water, and and at least six hours of daily sun will feed your plants everything they need to thrive. Growing food in pots gives you much more control over these factors, especially if you have poor soil or no space to grow a garden.
Good quality soil has minerals, trace minerals, microbes, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other essential nutrients for your plants. A deficiency or lack in any one nutrient makes other nutrients unavailable to your plants, so having all nutrients available is the first step in growing healthy plants that are disease resistant and less attractive to harmful insects. Soil experts often advise to have your soil pH tested, but most garden vegetables perform fine within the normal ranges of pH that a commercial organic potting soil will provide, so unless you are growing a vegetable that requires acid or alkaline soil this is unnecessary.
Organic soil and fertilizers contain a wide variety of nutrients, not just the typical nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K) contained in chemical fertilizers, slow-release fertilizers, and commercially available soils which have chemical fertilizers premixed into the soil. In short, the more nutrients available to your plants, the more nutritious the plants’ produce is for you.
Compost contains microbes that act symbiotically with plant roots to provide nutrients to your plants and food, so it is best to mix at least ¼ compost by volume into your soil. If you do not have compost, stores also sell it in bags.
Azomite™ is a dry clay product which has been shown to dramatically increase the health of plants, and the amount and quality of the produce. It contains over 70 minerals and trace minerals, and is easy to mix with your soil at planting time or to apply as a top dressing during the growing season. Azomite™ is harvested in the southwestern United States from deep in the ground, where it formed millions of years ago out of volcanic lava that settled in a seabed. This gives it the best qualities of both lava and sea minerals. The mineral makeup of the ocean is very much like the mineral composition of the human body and every other species on Earth, which makes it an excellent soil addition.
To feed your plants, fish emulsion and sea kelp provide a wide range of nutrients. When growing vegetables in containers, apply either one of these organic fertilizers, or a mixture of both, every two weeks during the growing season. Also, when you transplant seedlings, dilute one of these organic fertilizer solutions to half of the recommended amount on the bottle, and thoroughly saturate the soil. This will give your seedlings a boost and help them to overcome transplant shock. On the weeks when you do not fertilize, you can use a diluted solution as a foliar feeding. Use any sprayer to spray all of the surfaces of your plants’ leaves. This gives them a nutrient boost.