Growing Tomatillos

tomatillo husksTomatillos originated in Mexico and are a staple food there. They are part of the nightshade family. Growing tomatillos was new to me this year but thought I’d try them as I like green tomatillo salsa.  It has an almost citrusy flavor-kinda zingy on the tongue. When I first researched them, I read all kinds of things like, you need two plants for pollination, you only need one plant for pollination, they attract bugs, they don’t attract bugs and so on. For every thing someone would say about them, there seem to be the opposite said as well. The one thing everyone seemed to agree on is they take up some space-about 3 feet.  So here’s my one experience with them. In early June I bought one tomatillo transplant and put it in the ground outside after the chance of frost here. I grew the green tomatillo variety but I think there are several other varieties including a purple one.  I didn’t have any trouble with pollination and didn’t do anything to encourage it-it just happened. I really like the papery husks they grow in-they are beautiful with their bright green color and purple veins. Once they self pollinate, they start to grow inside the husk and eventually the fruit fills the husk. I picked it just after the husks split revealing the hard green fruit inside (about the size of a ping pong ball), but some people wait till the husks dry out and turns brown before picking. I will grow only one plant again because it was soo prolific. Also it is an easy keeper in that nothing seemed to bother it much. I had so many fruit from that one plant that I took a bunch of them to the Farmers Market and sold them. I agree they do take up about 3 square foot space per plant and I did have it staked for a while but then I just let it sprawl on the ground a little. It tastes great chopped up in a guacamole sauce for chips as well as in a tomatillo salsa. They refrigerate well for weeks before using them. I enjoyed them and will grow the again!

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9 comments on “Growing Tomatillos

  1. Jill Foster says:

    Oh, that sounds good. Only one plant? I think I will try one this year too! Sounds like it will do well in a big pot, which is what I do most of my veggie gardening in as I have a small shady yard. That way I can move stuff around.


  2. Peter Burke says:

    Aaaaah yes Tomatillos!!! They make the best fresh Salsa. I freeze the fresh made salsa and add it to refreid beans all winter. But the frozen it is not as good when it thaws like the fresh, it is a little rubbery. But canned it is great. Ball website has a very good recipe. I use the Square Foot Garden Method so I grow four plants on a trellis along the backside of a bed. Four square feet, one per square. I actually double tellis them, one in front and one in back so they grow in the one foot between. I found that the earwigs like to climb in and a few other critters so I like to kep them OFF the ground. I usually plant two trellises or eight plants. Great keeper, as you say. One of my favorites and this year I am adding one more trellis of the purple. Great blogs, I am new to you site and have enjoyed it a lot. Peter


  3. Tom Rivers says:

    Great info, Jannine, and timely – I was , wondering about tomatillos just the other day as I started planning for my next garden. Now I know I will grow a couple of plants, ’cause I loves the salsa! A question: regarding water, soil and sunlight, do they like what the other tomatoes like? In what conditions did you grown them?


  4. […] Growing Tomatillos ( […]


  5. Jack says:

    WOW. Great information on growing tomatillos.


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