A Salsa Garden

A cook grows salsa ingredients in a yard no bigger than a tortilla chip.

Some people have big vegetable gardens; I have a tiny salsa garden behind the beachfront cottage where I live. Each summer I start new pots of chiles (firecrackers and jalapeños), cherry tomatoes (red and yellow) and a small, early tomato called Fourth of July, and I move them around my yard to wherever it's sunniest. To flavor my salsas, I grow perennial herbs, like spearmint and chives, then bring the pots inside for the winter. I also have a small raised bed that's protected (so far) from winter flooding, where I cultivate annuals and biennials such as basil, cilantro and parsley. Fortunately, my sister lives in the country and has loads of space for her garden. Whatever I can't grow Susie can. She's always bringing me baskets of produce--tomatillos, cucumbers, poblanos, nasturtiums, purple basil--and on weekends we pool our ingredients to make even more kinds of salsa. The only things we need to buy are salt and pepper. Served with tortilla chips, of course, but also with scrambled eggs or anything that's been grilled--steak, bread, fish, chicken--these salsas are our summer tonic.

PUBLISHED June 2000

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