Tomatillos, also referred to as husk tomatoes, are a vital ingredient for several Mexican dishes, such as salsa verde and enchiladas verde. They’re also yummy whether eaten raw or cooked, so why not add them to your edible garden? They have the identical basic care requirements because their tomato cousins, with the added advantage of fewer issues and a longer and frequently sooner crop, a plus in short-summer places. Additionally they reseed.
The crops resemble berries but using papery husks encasing the fruits. Green tomatillos are the most common, but it is possible to find some that are purple or yellow. Purple varieties are generally sweeter. For odd varieties check Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Seeds of Change and Seed Savers Exchange.
Notice: To put fruit, you’ll need at least two crops for cross-pollination.
When to plant: Start seeds inside five to eight weeks prior to your planned planting date; set out begins or nursery plants two weeks to a month after your last frost and after the soil is warm.
Days to maturity: 70 to 120
Light requirement: Full sun
Water necessity: Regular
Favorites: Cisneros, Fiesta Duo, Green Husk, Pineapple, Purple, Purple di Milpa, Toma Verde, Verde Pueblo, Zuni
Photo courtesy of Seed Savers Exchange
The New York Botanical Garden
Planting and care: Wait until the frost has passed and the soil has warmed up before planting outside. Pick a website with rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Work in compost plus a low-nitrogen fertilizer prior to planting.
Plant deeply, burying about two-thirds of this plant. Leave 1 1/2 to two feet between plants. Tomatillos fared well in containers. Even a 12- to 15-gallon size is good, even though they will grow bigger baskets.
Water thoroughly after planting. Add supports now also, whether conventional tomato cages, stakes or some other sturdy structure. Nonmetal stakes or cages will not burn the plant if they become hot. As the crops grow, reaching an eventual height of 3 to 4 feet, attach the stems to the supports with tender ties.
Water regularly, about 1 to 2 inches directed to the base of this plant. Keep the roots moist but not soggy Mulching helps conserve water and keep weeds down. To promote fruit set, feed the soil using a low-nitrogen fertilizer after flowers look.
Tomatillos aren’t bothered by several pests and diseases. Providing good air circulation around the plants will help stop early blight, and staking will frustrate snails and slugs. Other issues you may experience are aphids, beetles, leaf-damage pests and powdery mildew.
Harvest: select the fruit when it’s filled the husk but remains firm to touch, and the husk has become brown and began to split. Remove the husk and wash off the fruit just prior to use.