Friday, September 20, 2013

Deep Purple

For four years, I've worked to stabilize genetics for plants that produce deep purple tomatillos from an original source of Baker Creek's Purple Tomatillo seeds, which at first grow-out produced mixed green, lavender, and occasionally purple tomatillos. This year, after years of roguing out plants that didn't match my ideal, I had no outliers; each produced inky-purple, very sweet tomatillos, and loads of them. Supported by tomato cages, the plants grow taller than I am, and they are covered with golf-ball sized fruits. As well, unlike their tomato relatives, they appear unfazed by the root-knot nematodes that have invaded my garden beds. When I pulled them up to clean out their bed for fall this week, I discovered their roots were smooth and nematode-free.


Since I've been working to pin down these genes, I've had to grow out more tomatillos than I would likely do so otherwise. Consequently, at the end of each summer, I am rich in sweet, deep purple marble-fruit. In the past couple years, I've been making big batches of salsa morada that I freeze to use for dinners during the winter. When I'm busy, I defrost a quart and make rolled cheese enchiladas in salsa morada. When I'm really busy, the enchiladas are stacked rather than rolled.


Quite unlike the large grocery-store green tomatillos, the fruit of this variety is near black on the exterior with purple flesh among the very ripe and mottled purple flesh among the near-ripe. It is much sweeter than the standard green tomatillo.

This year, I saved seed from my largest-fruited plant to grow out next year in an attempt to gradually increase fruit size, but if I lose flavor, color, or quality in this venture to produce larger fruit, I'll ease off on that goal. What I've got is already quite special.

A friendly acquaintance recommended I name this tomatillo "Wenger Ink." Any other suggestions?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mutual friend (Felicia Friesema) says you know and agree with minimal-impact living. We live off the grid etc. on the mountains (4,200') of far northern California. I'm captivated by your deep purple tomatillas. Any chance of participating in your seed development ... or are we too high and cold? My green did well (big crop this year) so they do grow here.
Wilma Dibelka
wilma@dibelka.us
http://ccf.dibelka.us

Cynthia said...

WOW! I'm very impressed. I like the name suggestion, too.

Christina said...

Hi Wilma. I'll shoot you an email about the seeds.

Cynthia! Thanks!

AJK said...

May I PLEEAAASE buy some of these beautiful tomatillo seeds from you? Pleeeease? with a tomatillo on top? (instead of a cherry). :)

Christina said...

AJK: No payment necessary, just a reminder and an address.

Pasadena Adjacent said...



They're beautiful and I know you could easily find a market for them given your description. Yes, name them and register a copywrite on them

'Wenger's (non-GMO) Black Beauties"

I'd love to see a photo in their tomato cage

Ed Martinez said...

Christina, I am always pleased to read your blog. I envy your walks around your garden your harvest photos and lifestyle. Envy in a good way.
Now I have decided to pursue my dream of planting vegetables and your tomatillos are inspiring.
Please may I have seeds and advice.
Thank you
chris martinez
p.s. I really like your name suggestion too.

Christina said...

Hi Chris. Shoot me an email if you're interested, and we can figure out sharing seeds from there: n i e z c k a (AT) g m a i l (dot) c o m (But, clearly, without all the spaces! I'm just doing that for spam control!)

Anonymous said...

What must i do to get some of these deepest purple jems? My email is desert__flower@reborn.com

Darren Abbey said...

Some of the purple tomatillos I've seen descriptions for require direct sun exposure to color up. Yours seem to become so evenly dark that they can't rely on direct sun exposure to trigger pigment synthesis.

I would be interested in growing this variety when you make it generally available.

Christina said...

Hi Darren: These tomatillos do not require sun to color--they're purple through and through. I'm in the middle of a move right now, but I hope to, within a couple years, grow a large enough crop to make a large quantity of seed available through Seed Savers or other means.