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Tomatillo Growing

How to Grow and Harvest Tomatillo

Tomatillo also known as Husk Tomato, is anything but a tomato. In a botanical sense Tomatillos are family of tomatoes but then so is Eggplant and Potatoes! Tomatillos are very similar to gooseberries in flavor and appearance, however not as sweet, much larger and plants are sturdier, growing upright. Germination of tomatillos is also much better and easier than that of gooseberries.

We found at Glen Seeds that birds do not eat tomatillos however they can destroy a gooseberry crop if plants are not protected. Our good friend Alan Katz from Mega Mica observed that since tomatillos are a fairly new introduction to South African gardens the birds probably haven’t learned yet how tasty they are!

In case you were wondering about the pronunciation of ‘tomatillo’ it is as follows: ‘To-Mah-Tee-Oh’, but that does not really matter, we are not in South America, pronounce it as you see fit J


Soil Preparation and feeding for Tomatillo

Tomatillo grows very fast and produces large numbers of big fruit that grows in husks. They are not heavy feeders and will perform even in poor soil, however if you have rich well composted soil you will do very well with them.

At Glen Seeds we stake our tomatillos especially when it is clear that yields are going to be very high.


Planting times for Tomatillos in South Africa

All Types:                    Aug - Jan

Start indoors if it is still frosty.       

Please note:  Planting times supplied are in a general South African sense and are based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary, for instance if you live in Tzaneen you have summer all year long and can grow summer crops January to December!


Sun exposure:

Full sun


Seed Planting and Germination

Tomatillo seeds germinate from 10 degrees Celsius and upwards.

Germination takes approximately 5 to 8 days.


Tomatillo Plant Spacing

All Plants:                    60 to 75 cm apart


Days to harvest

 85 - 90 days


  • Days to harvest is based on typical good growing conditions and can sometimes vary depending on climate, state of soil, and in some instances length of day and climate for the area in South Africa where you reside.
  • The specific plant might have characteristic/s that fall outside of the typical type norm.
  • Days to harvest are counted from germination or seedling transplant date whichever is the latest.



Tomatillos are ripe when husks turn brown.   


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