Tons of Tomatillos

What's not to love about a plant that requires little fussing, has huge yields, and is less susceptible to pests than tomatoes? The tomatillo is an easy-to-grow garden gem.

| Summer 2013

  • A healthy tomatillo plant can yield 10 to 15 pounds of fruit and will produce well into the chilly fall weather.
    Photo by Aviva Furman
  • An unharvested tomatillo slowly deteriorates and becomes a delicately veined skeleton with a mini package of seeds inside.
    Photo by Aviva Furman
  • A tomatillo's most unique feature is the biodegradable, lantern-like covering that protects each fruit.
    Photo by Aviva Furman

Put those tomatillos to use with these tasty recipes! Salsa Verde with Avocado Recipe  Pickled Tomatillos Recipe

For some vegetable gardeners, choosing a favorite plant is like choosing a favorite child. How could anyone decide? Each plant has its own wonderfully unique qualities, whether it’s an early harvest, abundant fruits, or particular resilience. For me, however, there is a clear favorite, and my garden is full of them: tomatillos. There are green ones the size of golf balls, smaller purple ones, and even the tomatillo’s tiny yellow cousin, the ground cherry.

Though I am most definitely a fan of salsa verde, it’s not the tomatillo’s culinary assets that give it the favored status in my garden. It’s the virtues of the plant itself. A tomatillo plant requires relatively little fussing, has huge yields, and is less susceptible to pests than tomatoes. A healthy plant can yield 10 to 15 pounds of fruit. Being indeterminate, it will continue to produce fruit well into the chilly fall weather. The plant has a graceful branched shape and lovely yellow flowers that make it pretty enough to warrant a spot in the garden even if it didn’t produce food.

Tomatillos are survivors. They have been traced back to 800 B.C. in Meso-America. One of the plant’s most unique features is the lantern-like covering that protects each fruit. It comes with its own little biodegradable packaging. Before the fruit forms, a papery covering emerges ready to receive the growing fruit. The papery husk protects ripe fruits from damage when they fall. If the fallen fruits are not harvested, the husk slowly deteriorates, leaving a delicately veined skeleton with a mini package of seeds inside. When autumn winds come, the seed packet is blown far and wide, assuring more tomatillos for next year. No wonder the plant has survived for thousands of years.



Tomatillos also have a mechanism to protect them from dehydration. They secrete a sticky substance helping the fruits to stay moist in climates where summer rains are infrequent.

History






Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February 16-17, 2019
Belton, TX

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE






Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 38% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube