Thursday, June 10, 2010

Random Nonsense & Tomatillo

I am trying to enjoy the iris while they are still here.

I should hand pollinate some of these as you can never have too many experiments.

So I snapped a picture of a field bindweed with the stronger pink coloring... right before I ripped it out and left it in the sun to roast. No worries.. it has sent out dozens of similar colored siblings. I literally spend hours everyday section by section ripping these plants out and continue to do so until winter nails them. Then I start again every spring.

Onion that will be left to go to seed. It was 1 bulb that has since divided into 3 separate ones.

The tomatillo that survived multiple frosts and several inches of snow is really making a comeback. Surviving the extremes that it did.. as a tropical plant.. oh yes it made it to the top of the seed saving list. Other attributes that are a definite positive quick maturity to set blooms and heavy bloom set as well as very impressive root system.The final hoop it must hop through is flavor.
Tomatillos are not self compatible.. so in order to save seeds you need to have several plants. Like with tomatoes and peppers, properly stored seed can hold up for 10+ years with very good germination rates.
Aunt Molly's ground cherries were on my list for this year but situations *cough likeobsessiveplantingofafewhundredtoomanytomatoesandpeppers cough* prohibited their addition this summer.
Tomatillos and Ground Cherry (aka cape gooseberry) will not cross pollinate. They are 2 different species. Now there is some variation in the tomatillos that you have to ferret out when you get a new strain. Some are good at the ripe stage, but most are better when they are NOT fully ripe. The tomatillo is used in a lot of green sauces in Mexican fare and what they bring is the tangy- sour-tart aspect.
Now while there seems to be a variety of tomatillos, most that are offered are either pineapple, purple or green (verde). The truth of the matter is that there are only a few actual stabilized strains. It is still a work in progress as the wild cultivars are just as appreciated in it's native region as the cultivated crop is. Because it is self- incompatible and wild for is appreciated plus in many warm regions it can be "weedy".. as well it sometimes can have iffy germination... it is worthwhile in my own opinion to save it's seeds.
When you save seeds and replant.. keeping in mind as well you are selecting for specific qualities.. what happens over the generations is that you also are creating a strain that adapts better to your climate. The key is you have to be selective. If you are maintaining a strain that has specific qualities... example a dwarf variety.. and you haphazardly save seeds over time you could lose that trait.
Anyways.. tomatillos are one of those plants you can chuck into odd places and get away with it.. like tucked into artichoke patch or in a row of corn.
Either you like them or you don't. Regardless the sticky coating needs to be washed off before use which can be annoying. Like Cape gooseberry, tomatillos can be kept on your counter still in the husk for a couple weeks. Good thing too because they can be really productive... and when it rains... it pours.


  1. Note on germination... I have gotten 12 year old tomatillo seeds to germinate. They are self-incompatible so if you want to continue a strain.. think outside the lines. Planting in a cluster instead of a row may offer you better luck like I have had.

  2. Your a good debater as well, although we will prolly never see eye to eye on feminism :)

    I shamelessly pulled the link to the peacebee blog from you. That was a wonderful link and has already helped me tons on the questions I had about my own hives.

    I thought I would add a hive or two for my garden this year but I have become obsessed with the little girls...

    Great blog you got here and nice to get to read you...

  3. Bees are amazing. The gentleman at Peacebee is wonderful.

    I never thought much about the hives when I was younger.. other than keep a good distance from them. On my Mom's farm she let someone keep a few hives on the property which came about with from a particularly rough drought.

    I never used to like honey until the last few years. When I was in Venezuela 20 years ago we visited a friend who was literally in the middle of nowhere in the jungle staying in an indigenous village. I do beadwork and reweaved a beaded necklace that was falling apart for an elderly lady. It was a gift from her husband, who had passed. I didn't want anything for doing it, but she was a tough cookie and some how when I was trying to communicate "you can keep the 2 big jugs of honey I was just happy to help"... I somehow ended up with 1 slightly smaller jug of honey and several live chickens. My sister's friend Iglee was no help... instead of translating she just laughed.

    Anyways... honeybees were scarce here until recently.