Wednesday, November 4, 2009

2009 Overview Pineapple Tomatillos (and Eggplants)

Pineapple tomatillo after planting

This year I grew pineapple tomatillos (really more of a ground cherry than a tomatillo) for the first time ever. I love growing strange plants that I've never tried. These are true to their name and do taste like pineapple. They made some great fresh salsa over the summer. Since tomatillos can keep for months if left in their husks I could collect the little bits they gave over time and combine them.


  • April 3rd, seeded in soil blocks, used heat mat to germinate
  • April 14th-16th germinated - only half germinated
  • May 14th transplanted
  • July 26th first harvest

I had two plants and harvested 2.6lbs of fruit for an average yeild of 1.3lbs per plant.

I've found all tomatillos attract cucumber beetles to the garden. That is the bad news. The good news is that they make a great trap crop. I hand pick them every day during the height of the cucumber beetle seasons. If you plant them on the other side of the garden from your cucumbers, the cucumbers will be ignored. My biggest pest were the chipmunks. They love tomatillos. Bird netting around the plant discouraged them, but didn't totally prevent loss of fruit. I probably lost half of what they produced. They got no diseases and grew very well.

My biggest mistake with them is to let them sprawl. They can grow several feet from the main stem if you let them. Caging would have been much better. It would have raised the fruit up so I could see it better. It would allow me to see the ripe fruit better. The fruit is ripe when it falls to the ground, but they get knocked off easily when rooting through the plant for ripe ones.

I probably won't grow this again anytime soon. I liked it, but I have limited space in the solanaceae bed. Next year I'd like to grow a couple of real tomatillos (P. ixocarpa instead of P. pruinosa).

As for eggplant, I didn't think it deserved its own post. I'm not going to grow them again I think. I didn't even eat the ones I got from my plants. I gave them away. I'm not an eggplant lover. Last year they did so much better. This cold wet year was not the year for eggplants. From four plants I got barely got over a pound. Part of the problem was that my pole beans on the other side of the path had started shading the plants so I ripped them out at the end of August in hopes of spinach. The solanaceae bed will be better used for tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos.


  1. I caged the tomatillos for the first time this year and it really was much better than letting them sprawl for all the reasons you mentioned. If you ever want to try eggplant again, try Diamond, it did great in my cool climate and tastes great, never bitter. But I agree with you, if you don't like it, don't grow it! Okra will never appear in my garden, ever...

  2. I'm not an eggplant fan, either. Too bad, because they are purple, and I love my purple vegetables!

  3. Thanks so much for the very helpful summary of the pineapple tomatillos, Daphne! I've never grown tomatillos, but will bite the bullet and give them a try (in cages!) next year. I've had no luck getting eggplant to fruit here, but once I learned to make Chinese and Indian eggplant dishes, have loved the eggplants from the CSA! Can't wait to read your next summary!

  4. Good review, as usual! I join you in the "never again" category for eggplant. It's good to have these epiphanies and realize, "Why am I growing this? I don't even like to eat it!"

  5. I'd like to grow a few true tomatillos next year. I didn't eat any of my eggplants either. I seem to grow them every year but I really don't like them. I think I need to reframe next year :-) By the way, I have lots of Big Chili II seed so if you want to give them a go I can share some seed.

  6. I grew one eggplant last year - and only because someone gave me the start. Not my favorite and they are a bit of a pain to grow successfully (at least in my cool climate).

  7. Michelle, I'm glad to hear caging works well. Letting them sprawl as really pretty sad.

    henbogle, I think that is why I keep growing them. They are just so pretty. I love the the plants, the flowers and the fruit - but only to look at.

    our friend Ben, last year I had a pretty good harvest of eggplant, but of the small kind. Slim Jim seems to fruit well in the cooler weather.

    Stefaneener, I started growing eggplant and zucchini last year. I hated them both at the start. I had grown summer squash before, but just as an ornamental. I love the way they look. I figured I could learn to like them. For zucchini I discovered recipes that I like with zucchini (all with grated zucchini) and it makes a great addition to soup when it is grated. So zucchini will stay. Eggplant never really made me like it. I did learn not to hate it, but I'll avoid it and eat other things given the choice. So never again.

    Dan, I'll take you up on that offer. I'd love to try them.

    kitsapFG, they are a pain to grow. I use a lot of plastic early on. Just not worth it for an unloved plant.