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Flat delivery fee £4.95, for all plants (excepted areas see here).
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Tomatillo

Tomatillo plants from Lubera

Whether freshly chopped, boiled or fried, the tomatillo (Physalis ixocarpa) is an integral part of Latin American cuisine and very suitable for making Salsa Verde.

   
 
Tomatillo 'Aurora'

The tomatillo with large, sweet and sour fruits

From £4.90 *

Tomato Fleece / Plant Protection Cover

For protecting tomatoes during cold weather

£6.40 *

   
 

More information about tomatillo

 

This plant, also known as the Mexican husk tomato, is closely related to the cape gooseberry (often incorrectly called physalis) and belongs to the nightshade family. All physalis species have a paper-like cover which, in the case of the tomatillo, bursts open at harvest time, releasing a tomato-like fruit. When the still firm fruit is harvested, it has a lemon-like, slightly bitter taste. They originally come from Mexico and have fruits up to about seven centimetres in size, which take on a pale yellow colour when fully ripe. These special nightshade plants were already cultivated by the Aztecs, but they are still little known in our latitudes - yet they can be used in many ways in the kitchen. When you buy one of these plants, you harvest the essential ingredient for making salsa fresh from the bush!

 

 

Young plants from the Lubera garden shop

 

There is a lot to be said for securing a sunny place for this rather uncomplicated plant in the coming garden season. The yellow flowers and lampion-like fruits are a beautiful eye-catcher in your garden. It is important to know this: when you buy a tomatillo plant, you need at least two specimens because of the fruit formation.

 

How do they grow?

 

These plants grow bushy. With their growth height of up to 1.8 metres and a large number of fruits, the plants absolutely need a supporting structure. They are basically grown like tomatoes.

 

Suitable location

 

The location should be full sun, nutritious and sheltered from the wind. Adding compost when planting or mixing in horn shavings is certainly beneficial, although tomatillos are only medium eaters (tomatoes are, however, high eaters). It is possible to grow this plant in a container - but this is only recommended to a limited extent due to its high and bushy growth.

 

Planting

 

The plants are planted outdoors in May when frost is no longer expected. The planting distance should be about 80 cm on all sides. In their Latin American homeland, they grow interestingly in mixed cultivation between beans, corn or pumpkins. It is recommended to attach a support rod before planting to avoid damaging the roots. It is advantageous if you get your plants slowly used to the outside temperatures. At 10 degrees Celsius outside temperature (at night) you can put your plants out for the first time.

 

Care

 

Stagnant moisture should be avoided with these plants. Mulching the soil is advantageous because it keeps the soil moist longer. Tomatillos usually require little watering, but the soil should not dry out completely. When watering, the leaves should remain dry to prevent fungal attack. Fertilise from time to time with an organic fertiliser - e.g. with horn shavings or stinging nettle liquid manure.

 

Pollination

 

It is important that there are at least two plants because in the case of tomatillos, in addition to pollination by bees, so-called cross-pollination must take place (they are self-incompatible). If the flowers are not fertilised, empty shells are formed. If your plants are in the greenhouse, you must pollinate manually with a brush (apply pollen from one plant to the stigma of the second plant).

 

Cutting and sprouting

 

It is not absolutely necessary to cut tomatillos, but it is better for plant health. The plant can be grown with one or two shoots. Two shoots mean more foliage and more fruit, whereas with one shoot you can expect an earlier harvest.

You can also sprout your plant like a tomato. The result of sprouting is that more sunlight reaches the central parts of the plant and there is better air circulation, which strengthens the plant as a whole.

 

Remove the first blossom

 

The first blossom should be removed. If you do not remove it, you will get a rather compact plant. If you want a tall growing plant, it is advisable to remove the first flower. Cut out the flower with a knife or break it out by hand.

 

Harvesting

 

The long harvest from July until the first frost gives you plenty of time to try out delicious recipes. The fruits are ripe when the shell bursts open and become dry. Ripe fruits usually simply fall to the ground. It is important to know that the sticky surface is a peculiarity of the tomatillo and can be easily washed off. When the fruits turn yellow, they lose some of their tangy, spicy flavour. Some people like them like this. The best fruits for salsas are those that are still firm and rather green.

If there is a risk of frost, you can pull your plants out of the ground and hang them upside down in a moderately warm place. They will keep there for a longer time.

 

Storing

 

The fruits can be stored in their shells at room temperature. They can be stored in a refrigerator compartment for up to two weeks. There are also reports of successful deep-freezing (after prior blanching), which ensures supplies during the cold season.

 

Overwintering

 

You can overwinter your plants in a container. To do this, cut back the plants (to two-thirds of their height) and place them in a bright room at about 10-15 degrees Celsius. Water moderately during the winter period. 

Propagation by cuttings is also possible. In late summer, cut off a shoot of about 10 cm in length and put it in growing soil (remove lower leaves). Place the cuttings in a light, warm place over the winter and water regularly. In this way, a new root system will develop and in the spring they will start to grow again.

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