How to Grow Tomatillos February 10 2014

While tomatillos may look like small green tomatoes, they are only a cousin in the tomato family, with no similarity in taste. Tomatillos are often used in their unripe (green) form, but ripened, they have a slightly sweet citrusy taste. There are even varieties that taste similar to pineapple.


Tomatillos are native to the hot climate of Central America, but are widely adaptable and can be grown in most climates.
Growing tomatillos is a treat, in that they're very easy to grow and quite prolific. Once established, they're not bothered by cooling temperatures and will produce fruit up until the first frost.


Gardening Tip for Growing Tomatillos:
Tomatillos do sprawl, so allow the space recommended on the seed packet.
Also, plant at least two tomatillo plants for pollination. Otherwise, you'll likely end up with flowers but no fruit.


Nutrition Information
Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Iron, Copper, Niacin, Potassium.


Climate & Growing Conditions
Select a sunny location in your garden with well-drained soil, for growing tomatillos.


Gardening Tips for Growing Tomatillos:
When growing tomatillos try to select a location that didn't have a nightshade family plant (tomato, pepper, eggplant, potato) in it in the prior season.


Preparing the Garden Soil
Garden soil with a pH of 6.5-7.0 is best for growing tomatillos. Mix in a light dressing of compost, but no more. Tomatillos don't produce well in rich soil.


Planting Tomatillos
In warmer climates, start plants from seeds directly in the garden after the last frost has passed. Lightly cover with soil, and keep moist (not soggy) until the seedlings emerge. Thin to one plant every 3 feet.


Gardening Tips for Growing Tomatillos:
Note: While waiting for the seeds to germinate, I recommend misting (rather than watering). Otherwise, you risk washing your seeds away.
In cooler climates, start growing tomatillos seed indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost of spring is expected. Start them in light seed starter mix in pots. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Harden the seedlings off before planting outside..


Watering
As with most plants, watering by irrigation is best. Otherwise, try to water beneath the tomatillo leaves (not from above). During dry spells, water them well weekly.


Fertilizing
If you applied a light dressing of compost when planting the tomatillos, you shouldn't need to fertilize again during the gardening season.
Gardening Tips for Growing Tomatillos:
Do NOT over fertilize when growing tomatillos. Tomatillos are less productive with too much fertilizer. It's better to under-fertilize this plant.


Gardening Challenges
Growing tomatillos presents few gardening challenges. It is a member of the nightshade family, so you may see some of the same insects (potato beetle larvae, hornworms) affecting your tomatillos as on tomatoes, peppers, etc. In my experience though, the insects prefer the other nightshade varieties first.
A frequent problem in growing tomatillos, is that a gardener may mistakenly plant only one tomatillo plant. This produces blooms, but no fruit. You'll find that you'll have a much better return of fruit, if you plant at least two tomatillos in your garden.
On the other hand, tomatillos can be so enthusiastic, that you end up with an army of self-planted tomatillos in the next gardening year.


Harvesting
It is best to pick your tomatillos frequently. The fruit is ripe when the husk turns golden to light brown.