Tiny Tomatillos

August 22, 2013 at 6:20 am Leave a comment

My friend, who has a small greenhouse in her backyard, gave me a tomatillo plant that she had started from seed. I’ve never grown tomatillos. In fact, I’m not really sure what they are.  But, in the mood to try growing anything, I happily brought the 8” tall plant home on May 23 and within a few days transferred it to a 5-gallon container.

I placed the potted tomatillo in the garden on the south side of my house, where it would get plenty of sun.  Within a few weeks, I noticed that something was chewing holes in the leaves. I sprayed it with insecticidal soap insect killer and that seemed to take care of the problem.

By early August, the plant was taller than me and loaded with beautiful bright green “lanterns.”  They were very lightweight, and they dangled and swayed in the breeze.  Having no experience with tomatillos, I wasn’t really sure how to tell when they’d be ripe and ready for picking. A quick Google search on How To Grow Tomatillos gave me everything I needed to know . . . almost.

Not-quite-ready Tomatillo, next to a cherry tomato and basil from my herb garden.

Not-quite-ready Tomatillo, next to a cherry tomato and basil from my herb garden.

According to that article, my tomatillos would be ready for harvest at about 100 days. However, here I am at 91 days since I got the plant, which was probably already 8 weeks old, and the tomatillos don’t look anything like the photo in the article.  The “lanterns” are about the size of golf balls, but they don’t appear to have anything inside.  One concern I had was that I only have one plant, and the article says you need to have at least two plants in order to pollinate and produce fruit as they are self-infertile.

To satisfy my curiosity, I plucked a lantern from the plant and was happy to see that there was, in fact, a beautiful albeit small tomatillo inside.  Apparently, the necessary pollination took place while my plant was still in my friend’s greenhouse, alongside the tomatillo plant that she kept for herself. I won’t have a 100-day harvest, but I’m confident that I will eventually have a harvest.

I think I can expect about 10 pounds of tomatillos from my plant.  Now, I’m on the lookout for some good recipes!


Entry filed under: gardening. Tags: , .

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