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Jul 22, 2014 09:05 AM

Growing tomatillos for the first time

I bought a 6-pack of tomatillo plants this year to fill up some extra garden space. I gave my friend 2 and planted 4 myself. Neither of us has grown them before and were both surprised that they made lots of little papery balloons. Can someone tell me if the fruit will eventually grow inside the papery balloons and how long that might take? I read on another thread that you need more than one plant for them to "fruit" but I don't know if, since they came in a 6 pack and were presumably from the same batch of seeds, they are genetically different enough to actually fruit or if the little balloons will be sterile.

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  1. Yes, the fruit should grow to fill up the balloons. Could take a month or so, at least based on my experience with two plants on my deck. This year I have two plants in my veg garden and the balloons are present but not yet filled with fruit.

    I don't think the fact that your plants came from the same pack should matter but I don't know for sure.

    4 Replies
    1. re: tcamp

      Thank you! I'm glad to know there's hope for getting some actual tomatillos. Although the balloons are quite neat to look at. Sort of like Japanese paper lanterns. Fascinating plants!

      1. re: tcamp

        The presence of the papery balloons proves that the blossoms were pollinated. Tomatillos like a fair amount of heat and will fill out slowly in most northern US locations.

        1. re: Eldon Kreider

          Then they'll definitely be slow up here. Thanks for the great info.

          1. re: Eldon Kreider

            I have two also, with a few lanterns. They should EXPLODE here! It was about 102 yesterday.

        2. I love these plants for the fruit, but also the beautiful balloons they produce, enjoy,

          1. I actually harvested real tomatillos! I have 4 so far and quite a few more that should be ready soon. I should have enough for a recipe, at least. Really neat how they fill into the balloons. I'll definitely grow these again.

            3 Replies
            1. re: AmyH

              That is great. What did you do with them?

              1. re: tcamp

                Nothing yet. Will see how many I have this weekend and choose a recipe that uses approximately that amount.

                1. re: tcamp

                  I ended up making this tomatillo chicken stew:

                  It was delicious and I highly recommend it. But I ended up actually having to buy more tomatillos to make it. Also, it turned out to be a nice day that would have been good for grilling. So I should have made this:
                  which I've made before and is a family favorite.
                  Well, the tomatillos are still growing so I'll make that next time.