Tomatillos

Tomatillos (Photo credit: katieharbath)

When I found tomatillo seeds at the garden center last spring I just had to try growing them, even though I’d never so much as eaten anything with a tomatillo in it. I germinated some seeds and got a few plants, which I stuck in the ground and forgot about. They grew tall and wide but I had all but forgotten about them when I saw those beautiful little green lantern shaped husks appear in September. I gently squeezed their husks and felt tiny, marble sized fruit within and left them to see if they would continue to grow during the fall. In late October I was rewarded with an abundance of nicely sized fruit, some approaching the size of a golf ball.

I recently harvested a big bowl of tomatillos and searched for a recipe that I thought I might like. I discovered one for roasted tomatillo and green olive salsa that was a big hit. I enjoyed it so much that I actually went looking for information on this plant so that I can grow more of them next year, even though I found that 2 to 4 plants should be sufficient to provide enough fruit for a family’s needs. I think they would look nice planted as ornamentals to fill in some of those empty spaces that appear in late summer when many annuals have withered away from the heat.

I found out that the plant grows as a weed in Mexico, so it should indeed be pretty easy to grow. It wants rich, well drained soil so raised beds are ideal. Since the plant sprouts roots along the stems, seedlings can be planted deeply. Since they grow into bushy plants 3′ to 4′ wide, plant them at at 4′ intervals. They are somewhat drought tolerant but do appreciate an inch or two of water weekly. Since they do tend to sprawl, I will surround them with cages next year to better support them.

I read that tomatillos tend to abundantly self-seed. This won’t be a problem for me next year and I look forward to guest appearances from them next year.

Recipes

Roasted Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa

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