Rio Grande Verde Tomatillo
Seed Count: Approx. 50 seeds
Days to Maturity: 85 Days
Description: The Rio Grande Verde Tomatillo is a high yielding heirloom variety that produces larger, 3-4 oz., apple green fruit with green netted, papery, lantern-like husks that dry and split open when they're ready to harvest. These fruits boast a rich, tangy, citrus flavor that is essential to Mexican cuisines. Tomatillos originate from Mexico, and really loves to grow in very hot humid areas, although it can be grown just about anywhere. They're highly productive plants that grow to about 2 ft. tall, and before you know it, you'll have more than enough tomatillos to make some fiya salsa verde. Tomatillos are a distant relative of the tomato, and are grown similarly. However, it is important to note that tomatillos are not self-pollinating. It is best to grow at least two plants, and they will need to be pollinated either by a pollinator or by hand. Tomatillos grow in a bush habit and usually don't need to be staked, however they may require it, if the plants get too heavy with fruit.
Mint2Grow Tip: You can hand pollinate tomatillos by swapping pollen between its flowers, with a small paint brush, or cotton swab.
How To Grow
Sowing: Start tomatillos indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost of spring, or direct sow in warmer climates. Sow seeds 1/4" deep and 1" apart. Tomatoes need 70-75 degrees F to germinate, as well as adequate light. Keep the soil moist, but make sure there is proper drainage, or the seeds can rot. When the second set of leaves emerge, transplant the seedlings into individual pots. Bury the stems up to the lowest set of leaves for strongly rooted plants. When soil temperatures reach 70 degrees, transplant your tomatillos outdoors, and bury them once more up to the lowest set of leaves. However, before transplanting your seedlings, make sure to harden them off first.
Growing: A trellis isn't necessarily needed, but can be helpful to keep the plants upright, especially once loaded with fruit. It'll help to support your plants, and keep them off the ground, protecting them from diseases and pests. Protect plants, if temperatures drops below 55 degrees F, or damage will occur. Keep soil consistently moist, or cracking may also occur. Mulching can be beneficial to preserve moisture, and deter weeds. It is important to avoid wetting the leaves to reduce diseases. I surround my tomatillo plants with basil. Other companion plants include marigolds, nasturtiums, sage, carrots, garlic, or onions.
Harvesting: Tomatillos are ready to harvest when the fruit fills out their husk, and starts to split. The fruit will stay green, but should be firm. If you plan to store your tomatillos before using them, leave the husks on. They'll keep for several weeks in or out of the refrigerator. Just make sure to remove the husk, and wash off the sticky residue before consuming. Seed saving: Since cross pollination between tomatillos varieties is likely, you should isolate your plants. Tomatillo seeds are ripe, once the tomatillo is ready to eat. You should ferment your seeds in order to remove the gel like substance on the seeds exterior. During fermentation, any bad seeds will float to the top, and all of the viable seeds stay sunk to the bottom. Fermenting your seeds can also increase germination rates as well. To ferment, squeeze the seeds, along with its gel, into a jar. Add some water, and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days, you should see a film form on the top, and it should smell a bit sour. Once the film forms, skim it off the top, and rinse out your seeds. Place them on parchment paper to dry. Once dry, store your seeds for the next season.