Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Tomatillo

I REALLY like tomatillos. I like to roast and puree them, and then put them in just about everything. So waaaay back in December? January? All of last year? when I was putting together a seed list to order, they were absolutely included in the giant first list, and never even got close to being cut in the subsequent rounds of list editing.

My love of the tomatillo was obviously reinforced by my stint of living in California, but due to the climate I lived in I had never seen it growing, although I would be surprised if none of my friends or friends of friends didn't grow it up on the ridge.

I planted 3. I transplanted them outside a teensy bit early, but my shed wasn't heated (or insulated) this year, so under the fluorescents with no warmth, things were getting a bit leggy. So outside they went. They took a bit of time to adjust to being outside, but once they did they took off.

In fact, they are so big now that the 6 foot stakes I put in to help support them (they're growing in a bed that is not quite deep enough and the topsoil has been compacted a bit making it even shallower) are turning out to be inadequate.

Tomatillos flower and then when germinated, the calyx blows up like a balloon, and the fruit slowly grows in it and fills it up until it starts splitting. At which point you are ready to harvest. So cool.

Now they look like big lush bushes covered in Chinese lanterns, and every time I look at them they bring a smile to my face. I can't wait for harvest!

Like lots of little Chinese lanterns...

And such cool flowers... (impossible to photograph...)


Jennifer Fais said...

I am pretty sure that you'll take pictures when the tomatillo lanterns burst open - I am on pins and needles and I had never heard of a tomatillo before a few minutes ago!! :-) How long am I going to have to wait????? Love, Jen

caitlinvb said...

I wish I knew!! Everything is growing in my garden at an odd pace, and so I really have no idea... Especially with the blast of heat we had last month. Things just stopped growing for about 2 weeks, and now they're just starting again. So. Bated breath indeed!

caitlinvb said...

Oh - if you've ever had green salsa at a mexican restaurant, you've eaten them :)

Johanna said...

My mom grows tomatillos in her garden, and they've totally taken over. Her secret is that she always lets a couple fruits drop on the ground to make new plants for the next year, that are presumably hardier and more adapted to the conditions than seedlings.

caitlinvb said...

Yeah... I don't know that any member of the nightshade family is particularly easy to thwart... I do love tomatillos, though...and no one really seems to grow them around here. If I end up swimming in salsa verde from here on our, I really don't have an issue with it ;)

I also like to put a fan in with my seedlings to help toughen them up. I swear it helps!