Have you ever thought about growing tomatillos in your garden? They’re similar to tomatoes, but with a papery husk. Some even refer to them as husk tomatoes. They remind me of little Chinese lanterns. Such an interesting plant, and such a wonderful addition to a culinary garden too!
They sure are fun to watch grow. The papery husk will begin to dry and split as the tomatillo grows, which also helps begins to signal their readiness for picking. The husk are easily removed before cooking.
Unlike tomatoes, I think tomatillos are best when cooked. They’re a little tart for eating right off the vine, unless they’ve passed the green stage, and have ripened into a pale yellow. But when roasted, they make wonderful base for Salsa Verde, a bright green salsa made of tomatillos, peppers, onions, and cilantro.
If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, tomatillos require similar conditions.
- Full sun. They like the heat, but not cold. Plan planting times accordingly to avoid frost.
- They prefer USDA hardiness zones between 5-11. Check your zone here: USDA Hardiness Zone Map
- A rich, moist soil that drains well. They like to be water frequently, but they don’t like soggy feet.
- Need to planted in multiples in order to pollinate and produce fruit. Plant at least two.
- Like tomatoes, indeterminate tomatillos will need support as they grow.
- Also like tomatoes, tomatillos are the perfect vegetable for planting in containers. Just make sure your container is large enough, and water often to compensate for container plants drying out quicker.
- Tomatillos are very productive when happy. One plant can produce several pounds of fruit—up to 10 pounds or more.
Next time you’re planning your garden, plan for a pair of tomatillos for a flavorful change of pace. And go ahead and stock up on the chips for that homemade Salsa Verde while you’re at it. Yummy gardening is the best!