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General information and discussion about cultivating tomatillos.

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Old March 24, 2015   #46
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: west central ohio
Posts: 171

Originally Posted by Redbaron View Post
All I can say is last year mine were a huge disappointment. I don't know if it is a climate thing between Ohio and the SW here. But North Texas and Central Oklahoma are probably closer in climate and soil than either of us to Ohio. So I wouldn't automatically get your hopes up. I'll keep trying and you should too. But at least last year, mine were pretty and thorny, but had not a single usable fruit.
Did you try starting them later in your season? The taste of mine got better as the weather cooled. Louie
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Old March 20, 2016   #47
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: oregon
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I was looking into these earlier today. Do they work as an aphid trap crop?
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Old March 20, 2016   #48
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I grew them last year. It has Beautiful flowers, lots of prickles/thorns, attracted "every" kind of bug possible. It's also difficult to remove it from the garden because of all the thorns.
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Old May 24, 2017   #49
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I've grown it twice. This is my third year. I have some tips.

* Don't try to start it from seed under fluorescent lights. It vastly prefers sun. They can germinate under fluorescent lights (mine took a while), but they don't grow fast under them.
* The fruit is not ripe when it opens the husk, nor when it turns red. It takes quite a bit longer to ripen. It's ripe when the fruit easily detaches from the husk (the husk will most likely be shriveled up by then). If you have to tug it, it's not ripe. If it fell off the vine on its own before you got to it, then it's probably nearly overripe or fully overripe and fruit flies may lay eggs in it. I've never had bug issues with fruit still on the vine.
* In my climate, it grew a lot better from seeds I saved myself.
* The fruits are sweeter when it's cold for a while. The plants can survive down to about 17° F. or so. I'm not sure what temperature the fruits survive to, but it's below freezing.

In a very hot and dry year (2015; my first year growing it), most of the fruits tasted astonishingly weird (they may not have been fully ripe), but one or two of them tasted like a really, really good, sweet strawberry. I probably gave them too much basalt rockdust and potassium sulfate. The seeds were hard, that year. The plant didn't set fruit in the heat, but it waited until it cooled. It got some aphids and spider mites, but it survived fine. It had nice flowers that lasted a really, really long time before growing fruit. (It does need a pollinator, though). One of the plants got demolished by a fence-building crew (I could tell the other one missed it; the other plants were likely too far away to pollinate it). The plants all survived until it got to 15-17° F. The fruit survived until a few to several degrees warmer or so. I started them with light from fluorescent lights, but they weren't growing very much; so, I moved them to the windowsill where they grew normally.

The second year (from saved seed), I watered it with a sprinkler instead of with a hose only at the base of the plant. They got more sun. I didn't amend the soil as much. It did set fruit in the heat, without issues. The seeds were softer and not a problem to eat. The flavor was much less weird, but not as awesome as a really good, sweet strawberry. I guess they tasted a bit like cherries (but not particularly sweet or tart); I added sugar and they tasted a lot more like cherries. The ones that ripened after it had been cold for a while were sweeter (but still not as awesome as the ones that tasted like strawberries). I got a lot more fruit than the year before. No problems with aphids or spider mites whatsoever. The only pests were fruit flies that laid eggs in fruits that fell on the ground. I'm not sure if the plants survived as much cold in 2016, since I used most of the fruit before it got too cold; I don't think they survived as long in the cold (but maybe that's because they fruited a lot earlier). I saved a lot of seeds. Let me know if you'd like to try them. I started them in an unheated greenhouse; they took about as long as peppers to sprout.

I still need to transplant them, this year, but they're doing well and look nice. I started them in an unheated greenhouse again, this year. They sprouted faster than most peppers, this year. I think I had a few reseed this year a ways away from where the plants were. I didn't have any reseed in 2016.

I get the impression that the 2015 plants needed more acclimatization. I'm wondering how they'll do, this year (their third year).

I'm also curious what grafting a tomato on them or vice versa would be like. They may get a lot more cold-tolerance. Maybe the blossoms of tomatoes would be less likely to drop (I don't think I've ever seen a litchi tomato blossom drop; I think they all set fruit first).

The seeds look like eggplant seeds.

I'm thinking I might like to pickle them (with lactic acid producing bacteria), this year, and see what they taste like. They're kind of soft for pickles, though.

Last edited by shule1; May 24, 2017 at 05:35 AM.
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Old May 24, 2017   #50
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 298

Last year I grew litchi tomato from saved seed, to renew my stock. With 9 plants, and an extended Autumn, had a very large crop. They ripen late here... which suits me fine, because as previously mentioned, the flavor is best when the weather cools. Because of this, it may be poorly suited to warmer climes, unless planting is timed so that fruit matures in the cool(er) season. The high frost tolerance should be helpful for that strategy.

There is some genetic variation in my stock. Some have fruit which are sweet & release easily when ripe, but they are fairly small (about 1" or smaller). Other plants have fruit about twice that size (around 2") but they tend not to release as easily, and are less sweet. I have been saving seed from these extremes, in the hope of producing a large berry with sweet flavor... and hopefully, a clean release. Had a lot more large fruit last year, with some improvement in flavor, so the strain is slowly improving.
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Old May 24, 2017   #51
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Originally Posted by Zeedman View Post
… Had a lot more large fruit last year, with some improvement in flavor, so the strain is slowly improving.
That reminds me. My fruit was quite a bit bigger the second year I grew it. Your project sounds pretty nice.

Another thing I found is that my plants that came from seeds frozen in the fruit sprouted later, but were larger and more prolific than those that hadn't been in frozen fruit.

Last edited by shule1; May 24, 2017 at 05:22 PM.
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Old May 25, 2017   #52
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Germany
Posts: 1,310

It's funny - today I transplanted my 2 (and only) Litchi Tomato seedlings. Many thanks for all the infos in this thread!

To be honest, I'm only growing it because of our neighbor who likes to steal everything she can get by bending over the fence... The Litchi tomatoes will be accompanied by the Cannibal's Tomato and I'm already looking forward to hear her spitting out the Cannibal's Tomatoes and complaining about the spikes when trying to pick some Litchis!

PS: All my other tomatoes are planted too far away from the fence to reach it by bending over - I've learned from previous years...
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Old May 25, 2017   #53
Riding The Crazy Train Again
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Location: San Marcos, California
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Helping herself to what does not belong to her...
"The righteous one cares for the needs of his animal". Proverbs 12:10
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