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Tomatillo

Physalis philadelphica

Tomatillos are the odd-looking distant cousins of the tomato. Native to central America, they can be found growing wild in fields of corn and beans, and they are gathered to be eaten or sold in local markets. The name and the requirements for growing tomatoes and tomatillos are similar, but the comparison really stops there. The appearance of a tomatillo (pronounced to-ma-TEE-yo) with its papery husk is quite different. In fact, it is also known as a husk tomato, due to the dry cover that surrounds the fruit. Tomatillo plants are highly self-incompatible, and two or more plants are needed for proper pollination. Thus, isolated tomatillo plants rarely set fruit.

Planning

Difficulty
Moderate
Flowering time
Summer
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

Harvesting is easy, wait for the fruit to get firm and the husk to get dry, papery and straw colored. Once this happens, your tomatillos are ready to pick. Tomatillos store well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and even longer if you put them in a plastic storage bag. Harvesting is generally 90-100 days after sowing.

Propagation

Seed
Sow seeds in pots 8 weeks before your last frosts, then transplant outside once temperatures warm up. Seeds take 4-8 days to germinate. Provide some support for the plants to grow on.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Attracts bees

Geography

Origin
Central America, Mexico
Natural climate
Sub-tropical

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Dry
Soil type
Loam
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Edible
This green fruit is the base ingredient in sauces such as salsa verde, where it is combined with peppers and other seasonings and used in many Mexican dishes. Tomatillos can also be dried to enhance the sweetness of the fruit in a way similar to dried cranberries with a hint of tomato flavour.

Personality

Family
Solanaceae
Flower colour
, White, Purples, Yellow, Green
Scent
None

Problems

Susceptible to aphids and leaf eating beetles, promote natural predators like lady bugs.
Aphids
Aphids
Aphidoidea spp.

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