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Tomatillos (photo courtesy of Robin Bachtler Cushman)
Tomatillos (photo courtesy of Robin Bachtler Cushman)

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Zone
Zones A1-A3, 1-45, H1, H2
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Tomatillo

Solanaceae
Vegetables

From Mexico. Easy-to-grow, summer-fruiting tomato relative known botanically as Physalis ixocarpa. Bushy, sprawling growth to 4 ft. tall and at least as wide. Fruit swells to fill—and eventually split—the loose, papery husk (calyx) that surrounds it. When fully ripe, fruit is yellow to purple, about 2 in. wide, and very sweet, but it is usually picked when green and tart and used in sauces and other dishes.

Sow seeds directly in fertile soil 4 to 6 weeks after last frost, when the soil has warmed; in moist, warm soil, seeds will germinate in 5 days. Thin seedlings to 10 in. apart. Or start plants indoors and set out in the garden; plant deep, as for tomatoes. Use floating row covers in short-summer areas. Tomatillos can be trained to a trellis like tomatoes but are usually left to sprawl. Once fruiting begins, cut back on water but don’t let plants become stressed. Harvest fruit when walnut size (or smaller, if it seems fully developed) and deep green. Don’t remove the papery husk until you are ready to use the fruit.

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