Can’t Stop the Tomatillo!

In an effort to grow new-to-me determinant tomato varieties, I completely forgot to grow tomatillos this year. By the time I realized my mistake it was too late to start tomatillos from seed and none of my favorite local transplant suppliers were growing them. I’m told that tomatillos aren’t a popular crop. For shame.


Well look at what I discovered growing out of the gravel on the unusable side of our rooftop this evening. Several small tomatillo plants — seeded by previous years’ crops — have taken a stab at procreation in what amounts to about an inch or so of gravel on top of tar paper. Some of them had flowers! We dug them up to transplant into pots and discovered healthy, and rather large root systems. I have developed a whole new respect for this plant!

It’s already late in the summer so the chances of getting more than a handful of small-sized fruit is grim but I have moved the largest into containers to give them a fighting chance. Go tomatillos, GO!

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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7 thoughts on “Can’t Stop the Tomatillo!

  1. who would’ve thought that something with such a whimsical, almost prissy name would turn out to be so… butch…

  2. I’ve had great luck with those suckers in the past. I’d actually be curious to know if they are considered a more “hardy” variety than your average tomato. Many moons ago in a makeshift garden in a rental basement suite I tried for a few tomatos and on what I thought was a whim, stuck in a tomatillo from the farmer’s market. None of my tomatos made it that year, but the tomatillo could not be stopped from its bounty of production.

  3. Yes I believe that tomatillos are a “wilder” plant in the way that some tomatoes are. We have a tiny currant variety growing at my Community Garden that pop up on their own every year, require no special treatment, and produce a ton of fruit. The variety of tomatillo I grow is a purple heirloom, not a hybrid so I’d imagine it’s got a lot of wildness in it.

  4. My mother planted some tomatillos in her garden serveral years ago. Nothing special, just your average seed packet plant. For at least the next five or six years they not only came back up in the garden, but also started showing up all over the farm! Guess the birds got to a fruit or two and helped them spread out. It doesn’t take much!

  5. Very interesting! Myself, I did not know tomatillos at all, until this summer. I got a seed packet from one of my daughters in spring, and forgot sow tomatoes, which I normally do every year! Well, tomatoes they sell in any shop, though baught tomatoes don´t taste like home grown. Now I get tomatillos, and as I did not know how to use them I looked for blogs about them and googled, and I got lots of information. Soon I am going to make my first salsa verde.

  6. Do you need at least two tomitillo plants before you will get fruit? I had three but two died and the one remaining plant is growing like crazy with lots of yellow flowers and little green buds. Will this one plant produce fruit or does it need another plant to cross pollinate?

  7. Sheila: The general consensus is that you need two plants. However, I have grown just one tomatillo plant many times and have harvested loads of fruit so I don’t know…. They say the plants can be pollinated by other plants if the insects are traveling a distance…. I would say that is unlikely around here given my location and the tomatillo’s lack of popularity around here. The answer seems to be grow two to be safe but if you only have one going you might as well wait and see what heppens.

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