How to Grow Tomatillo Plants
Botanical name: Physalis philadelphica
Tomatillo is also known as Toma Verde or Ground Cherries. Tomatillos are
members of the nightshade family, and are closely related to tomatoes. It
is grown like a tomato. The plant and leaves look like a tomato plant. That
is where the similarity ends. Twenty years ago, most Americans did not even
know of Tomatillos, let alone think about growing them. Now, avid gardeners
looking for something different to grow, often turn to Tomatillos.
The fruit of the Tomatillo is green, and about the size of a large cherry
tomato. The inside is white and meatier than a tomato. Tomatillos grow inside
of a thin paper-like husk. They are used in Salsa, jams and many tex-mex
and Mexican recipes.
Varieties of Tomatillos:
Sowing Tomatillo Seeds:
Sow Tomatillo seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Sprouting
tomatillo seeds is more successful, when started indoors using a heated
germination mat. Transplant tomatillo plants into your garden after all chance
of frost has past. Plant seedlings 18 - 24 inches apart, in rows three to
four feet apart.
Tip: Harden off your tomatillo plants, by bringing them outdoors for
increasing amounts of time, beginning a week before transplanting. Make sure
to bring them in, or put them in a cold frame, if very cold weather or frost
Days to Maturity:
90 - 100 days.
How to Grow Tomatillo Plants:
Growing tomatillo plants is easy. Tomatillos like hot weather. They are
grown just like tomatoes.
Grow plants in full sun in average to rich soils.
Plants grow tall, four to five feet or more. The plants need support. If
you use tomato cages, don't be surprised if the grow much taller than
the top of the cage. We recommend growing them along a fence, so you can
use jute twine or rope to tie the plants to the fence.
Provide plenty of water,
and mulch around the plant to retain water. Feed them regularly, and switch
over from nitrogen to higher phosphorous and potassium as the plants grow,
to promote flowering and fruit set.
Insects and Pests:
Insect infestations are fairly uncommon. Occasional chewing and sucking pests
will affect them. The most common pests are cutworms, snails and slugs.
Tip: Stake your plants up to keep the fruit off the ground. This keeps
the snails and slugs away and damage from lying on the ground.
Diseases of Tomatillos:
A number of plant problems can arise, usually in mid summer heat and humidity.
Blights and fungus infections can occur in the high humidity. Early treatment
with fungicides is effective. Spacing plants too close, cuts down air circulation
and promotes disease.
Plant Problems - Diagnosis,
causes and cures for many common plant problems.
Tomatillo plants produce a profusion of fruit, which will begin to ripen
around mid summer.
Tomatillos are ripe when the paper-like husk turns brown and breaks open.
Remove the husk, and rinse the oily substance off. Store in a cool, dry place
until you are ready to use them.
Tomatillos are a tender annual. Transplant plants in your garden, after all
danger of frost has past. Cover tender seedlings if frost is forecast. If
there is fruit still on the plant in the fall, cover them with a sheet of
plastic, a blanket, or an old tablecloth. Tomatillo plants will succumb to
Homemade Salsa Recipe