Tomatillo Time

tomatillos grow like lanterns

Initially I didn’t have high expectations for Tomatillo Grande Verde (Botanical name: Physalis philadelphica, from the Solanaceae family, a.k.a. husktomato, jamberry, ground cherry; tomate de cascara, tomate de fresadilla, tomate milpero, tomate verde, miltomate; sourced from Kings Seeds organic), sown September 10, 2010, since I associated tomatillos with Mexican food, and therefore a sunny, warm climate. But the tomatillo’s been surprising in so many ways, proving itself hardier than all the tomatoes I planted this year and even thriving in the challenging Seagarden environment.

I planted out the seedlings at the same time as the tomatoes (gardeners delight and brandywine) and watched the tomatillo flower profusely with bright yellow blossoms, yet fruit didn’t set until much later. It turns out, they are not self-fertile— you need at least two plants to set fruit. I planted at least 4, but in different places around the garden. Happy to see at least two plants fruiting exuberantly. Thanks, bees!

Snail on Tomatillo

All types of creatures seem to like tomatillos. I loved seeing all the rigid and mis-shapen parts of the protective husks – visible reactions to threats and predators.

Todays Harvest

Yet within the husk, the fruits of my most recent harvest all looked entirely untouched. They feel sticky when you peel off the husk, but that rinses right off.

Naked Tomatillos

Alas, except for that big shiny one in the middle, I did it wrong. You’re supposed to wait until the fruit bursts through the hull — but not so long that they lose their bright green colour. Luckily, I didn’t pick them all, so I’ll wait until the rest are bursting through. My harvest was on the small and young side, but considering the delicious results of the slow cooked spicy Oaxacan Lamb stew I made with them, using Moreish organic lamb shanks from Urban Harvest and Mark Bittman’s sear it afterwards tip, you wouldn’t know I missed a trick.

  • These are beautiful. I love tomatillos and it's so hard to get them over here... I'm glad to hear they're not hard to grow, may have to try some myself next year (and if so I'd be keen for a tomatillo festival!) Lamb stew with tomatillo sauce sounds so good for this time of year, too.

  • gardengeeknz

    Thanks Millie! I may still have plenty to gift next month if you're inspired to cook with them, and I'm counting you in for the festival next year.

  • Hi Emily,
    Thanks for visiting my blog. It's great to know I'm not the only person awash in tomatillos this season. I couldn't believe how massive the bushes got, and how much fruit they produced. Maybe next year we can have a tomatillo festival.

  • gardengeeknz

    Thanks Sue. I love the idea of a tomatillo festival! Maybe we can get the authentic Mexican chefs in town to judge or even offer a master class. I could learn a lot from Chris Marib at La Boca Loca. Could be a fun tie in with Cinco de Mayo too.

blog comments powered by Disqus