The Q&A Archives: Tomatillos

Question: I got a Burpee seed package for growing salsa ingredients - it had tomatoes, hot peppers, cilantro, onions, and tomatillos. I had a lot of trouble getting the tomatillos started - they were thin, spindly plants from the outset, and only two survived. Now, they're in the garden and finally looking GORGEOUS. They are tall, full, vigorous, and look healthy in all ways. They are covered in blossoms, which have been blooming for more than 6 weeks, but I still don't have any fruit setting on the plants. Because tomatillos are related to tomatoes, I've been treating them the same way - the same fertilizer (Miracle Gro for tomatoes) and the same bright, hot, sunny location. The tomtatoes and bearing, but the tomatillos just aren't. Any ideas why, and what I can do to help?

Answer: Tomatillos are sometimes called the Husk Tomato. They need the same culture as tomatoes, but they develop a large berry that is enclosed in a papery husk. The fruit will be hidden within this husk, rather than visible like tomatoes. When the color of the husk changes from green to light brown, the tomatillos are mature and ready to harvest. You can feel through the husk just how large the fruit is; mature fruit is 1-2 inches in diameter. If the blossoms are falling off instead of producing berries and husks, I'd suspect poor pollination due to cool temperatures. Tomatillos have been cultivated in Central and South America for centuries. They require long, warm days to set fruit. Now that it's mid-summer, your plants should begin to set fruit.

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