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Tomatillos?

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Tomatillos?

Post  FRED58 on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 5:19

I bought a tomatillo plant at a big garden center in "the city" on a whim. I have never grown one before, and I would appreciate any information. I have it planted in a 4-gallon container in Mel's Mix, in full sun.
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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  donnainzone5 on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 8:57

As I understand, you need two plants for cross-pollination to produce a crop.

I had three plants last year, and the frozen bounty lasted until a month or so ago.

Some of the fruit dropped on the ground; as a result, I have a plenitude of volunteers.
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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  Marc Iverson on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 9:06

Your container might be a little small. Tomatillos develop huge root balls when healthy. Your roots will probably take up every inch of that four gallons, leaving little holding capacity for water. And tomatillos are extremely water-hungry. More so than, say, a tomato, to which they are closely related. I'm not sure what they do with it all, but they are very prolific, so you do get a nice return on your money with tomatillos!

Otherwise, care is essentially the same as with tomatoes. Don't use too much nitrogen fertilizer or the plant may overgrow its own strength, becoming very big but thin-branched and more vulnerable to wind damage and breakage under the weight of its own fruit. And also putting too much energy into growing its greenery rather than setting fruit.

It will benefit from staking and/or stringing from above. The plants can spread wide, so leave space around the container for the branches to occupy. A healthy tomatillo can easily be more than three feet wide, sometimes much more.

You may want to mulch the top of your soil to help retain moisture.
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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  MackerelSky on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 9:23

As Donna mentioned, you will need at least two plants for the flowers to set fruit(learned the hard way my first time). Hopefully you can still pick another one up altho they are pretty plants without fruit.

Other than that they are very easy to grow as long as they don't have wet feet. Container or raised beds are ideal for these plants and if you've never 'peeled' a tomato like veggie it's a treat. Just give them some room and be prepared to do some trimming if they get out of hand.

For future reference, I haven't had to buy anymore plants since the first year. Just throw one fruit in the compost pile and they will be ready for spring.
mmmm fresh salsa.
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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  sanderson on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 10:25

Fred, Welcome to the world of tomatillos. Yes, you will need 2 plants for fruit. And larger pots and lots of water. It's exciting when you see the first tiny lantern, and then again, when the lantern is big and the fruit splits it!

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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  FRED58 on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 15:33

thanks for assuming (correctly) the question (Any help?) that seems to have disappeared (I was in a rush).

I may have some sort of mutant freak of nature here. I only have the one plant (the nursery I got it at is about three hours away, and the local nurseries are out of annuals and nobody even has seeds!). Anyway, it has set a couple of lanterns a bit bigger than a golf ball. Will these be empty?

 If so, as a Toronto Maple Leaf fan, I know the meaning of "wait until next year". Very Happy
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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  donnainzone5 on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 15:42

Perhaps there are more tomatillos in your neighborhood.

Meanwhile, mine are beginning to bloom.  I may have to sell the surplus.
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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  sanderson on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 18:42

Have you gently squeezed the lantern to see if there is a fruit inside?

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Re: Tomatillos?

Post  FRED58 on Mon 6 Jul 2015 - 18:59

OK, just checked, they all have something inside. Maybe there is another one in the area. I guess I don't need any lottery tickets this week: I've had all my luck this week!
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4 gal. pot may be too unstable

Post  point on Tue 7 Jul 2015 - 15:49

Hello, Fred58.

By the end of my first season of gardening, my five tomatillo plants had turned into enormous bushes.  The branches were heavy, but I didn't know about staking plants, so a lot of stems bent one windy night.  They looked broken, but it turns out the outer walls of the branches had just been damaged.  A friend told me that his tomatillos had done the same, and to just let the branches stay on the ground, and let the mangled structure support itself, and to cut off anything that looked as if it were rotting.  This is not SOP, though.  You risk diseases when leaves and fruit are packed together.

I had planted the tomatillos in-ground through a hole in the landscape cloth covered with gravel, so whatever rain fell drained through the gravel.  I was just lucky that there were no diseases on the plants.

So the lessons for me were to stake, cage, or trellis top-heavy plants, and to prune and support plants so that they don't break if they're pushed sideways, or get diseases through the lower foliage.

There was an enormous harvest, and the salsa was very good.  Good luck!
 
Edit: I just realized I repeated information that others had given since I started my post this morning.  Sorry for the duplication.


Last edited by point on Tue 7 Jul 2015 - 15:55; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Add text.)
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