Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips for Growing Tomatillos in Containers

Growing tomatillos in containers is surprisingly easy if you have sun, good potting soil, and an extra large pot. Tomatillos are not only tasty and make fabulous salsa, they are gorgeous and exotic looking. The flowers are a pretty yellow and when the tomatillo fruit first appears it looks like a tiny Chinese lantern – delicate and translucent. While tomatillos require similar care to tomatoes, they are much more forgiving.

They are fairly drought and heat tolerant and  are much less susceptible to blights and fungus.

I have grown both purple and green tomatillos and don’t see a huge difference, other than color. I generally grow Toma Verde.

 Tomatillos are big and sprawling plants. They also need lots of water. To have the best chances for success growing tomatillos, get the biggest container you can and fill it up with a good quality potting soil. You want to use a large pot, because the more potting soil you use the better the moisture retention will be, and the happier the plant. You can use almost any container that that is big enough to hold at least a cubic foot of soil, and has drainage holes or that you can create drainage in.

One of my favorite containers to use for growing container garden vegetables is a big Smart Pot.  A large reusable grocery bag, or any large conventional flower pot would work too. One of my favorite ways to grow tomatillos is in a grow box, as it is easier to keep the plants hydrated.

Tomatillos are easy to start from seed, but if you live in a colder climate it is recommended that you start your seeds indoors about 4 weeks before the last frost. That way the seedlings will be ready to harden off and then plant when the weather gets to be at least 50 °F at night.

If you buy seedlings plant them (after you have hardened them off), making sure to plant them so the crown of the plant (where the plant meets the soil and the roots start) is at at the same level as it was in the nursery pot.

Simple and Gorgeous Container Garden Ideas

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, I think it’s also thrift. I’ll admit it, I’m cheap, which is one of the reasons I’ve had to come up with so many non-traditional container gardening ideas. It helps that I love going to yard sales and thrift stores and finding baskets, tea cups, baby shoes and other odd things to turn into containers.

Though classic pots can be stunning, I also love up-cycling and coming up with new ways to plant.

When figuring out what to plant it, remember, that while almost anything can be transformed into a container for a garden, there are a few things to keep in mind.

You can find old baskets at thrift stores, yard sales and Dollar Stores for less than a dollar. I buy them even if they are falling apart a little bit. I can usually glue them back together, turn the problem to the back, or just ignore the imperfection and call it “distressed.”

To jazz up a basket, I will often spray paint it in a bright color.

After years of trial and error, I now line baskets with clear, lightweight plastic, either the kind you get at the dry cleaner, or a lightweight flexible bag.

I cut lots holes in the bottom for drainage. You can also line baskets with moss. Unless the basket has large holes so the moss would be seen, I generally use plastic, because it is less expensive and helps the soil to retain moisture. I often use moss as a top dressingfor a finished look.

Part of the reason I love container gardening is the possibility for instant gratification. One of the most satisfying ways to achieve a full and beautiful planter, is to cheat. Buy a lush and fully filled out hanging basket then cut or pull off the plastic hangers and then pop the whole thing – right in it’s nursery pot – into a container.

If it sits too low in the container, you can put a bucket, pot or plastic container, upside down in the bottom and put your flowering basket right on top.

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get the right level, but you generally want it to sit about an inch below the rim of your pot.

Putting Spanish moss around the pot is a good way to hide it and make the container more interesting.