JEFF TIEDEMAN: Salsa — it starts in the springOur unseasonably nice weather this spring has a lot of the people chomping at the bit. Some have already sown a few vegetables such as potatoes and peas, which typically are the first of the season. You can grow most of the ingredients for salsa in your own garden.
Have you caught the gardening bug yet? Are you itching to get your fingers into the soil?
Our unseasonably nice weather this spring has a lot of the people chomping at the bit. Some haven’t been able to wait. They’ve already sown a few vegetables such as potatoes and peas, which typically are the first of the season.
Well, I haven’t turned a shovelful of dirt yet, but the thought has crossed my mind. In fact, I’m going to fire up my rototiller today.
That’s not to say I haven’t started some preparations. I already have many of my seeds on hand — some saved from last summer’s crop (beans, squash, coriander) and other purchased earlier this spring (carrots, beets, cucumbers, okra, etc.).
And I plan on making a trip to a couple of the local greenhouses to scope out plants this weekend.
I used to start a few plants in the house before the gardening season arrived, including tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli. But I gave up doing that because of inadequate lighting.
Another vegetable that used to get that kind of treatment from me was peppers, both sweet and hot. I generally would plant up to a dozen different types of peppers indoors.
I still like to raise a multitude of peppers, including the following varieties in one combination or another: sweet bell, jalapeno, Anaheim, cayenne, Hungarian wax, sweet and hot banana, cherry, Thai, Serrano and habanero.
There’s one good reason why I grow so many kinds of peppers — to make salsa.
And if you love salsa like me, you should consider “growing” your own salsa garden. It will take just a little room, a few plants and a little commitment.
Besides peppers, you could plant tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro, the other main ingredient of salsa. (I plan to add garlic to my garden once again.) And you also could raise tomatillos, a key ingredient in some green salsa recipes.
That’s what I’m going to tell those who’ve signed up for my presentation at Gardening Saturday at East Grand Forks Senior High.
Subtitled “Gardening, The Good Life,” the event is sponsored by the North Dakota State Extension Service and the Grand Forks Horticulture Society.
The brainchild of Steve Sagaser, NDSU extension agent, Gardening Saturday is in its 26th year and attracts more than 650 attendees. It features breakout classroom sessions, master gardeners and industry experts. This year’s keynote speaker is popular TV personality Paul James (The Gardener Guy), host of HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard” since 1996.
If you’re looking for another reason to “grow” your own fresh-from-the-garden salsa, consider the health benefits.
According to Danika Warner-Noreen, licensed registered dietitian at Altru Health System, salsa provides many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, A and B as well as potassium. And it also is high in antioxidants, particularly lycopene, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty good store-bought salsas.
But the bottom line is why eat commercially made salsas, complete with their preservatives and sodium, when you can “grow” you own?
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.