Sunday, September 4, 2016

It's a Thorny Situation

Litchi Tomato or Morelle De Balbis [Write up below from Baker Creeks Catalog]

 Large plants grow to 5', and are covered with thorns; sweet red fruit and large white flowers. Lovely to look at, but be careful with the thorns! We enjoyed the fruit all summer right from the plant. They're about the size of a cherry and taste like a cherry crossed with a tomato. A very pretty and attractive plant that originated in South America, but has been naturalized in many countries. Start plants as you would a tomato.[The above information is from Baker Creek]

Do you see the thorns here? 

I recently posted a general farm update. It mentioned these tomatoes and they seemed to catch everyones eye so here is a post devoted to these interesting and very pointy, sharp and prickly tomatoes!

These plants are some of the strange old or rare varieties we have tried this year. The germination of the seed was good and we had a vigorous set of seedlings to set out.

They took right off but we noticed the thorns right away, even on the seedlings. Ralph got poked several times planting them. We re-read the information but it didn't mention the thorns on the leaves!

The Litchi didn't mind the extreme wet or the dry and have grown really well in the garden by the house and the big main garden south of the barn. We did not stake them as we couldn't get onto the garden due to wet conditions, now we cannot stake them due to the vicious thorny nature of the plants. They are strong though and don't seem to be bothered without support. The flowers look very much like potato blossoms and the fruit are grown in clusters and have a husk...the husk has thorns on it. As they ripen the husk shrinks away and after a few pokes you get the hang of picking them without injury.

 We are loving the fruit. I don't think any have made it to the house. If we are attempting to get weeds under control or I am picking peppers or corn I seem to amble by the Litchi and snag the ripe one. Our neighbor who is cutting our hay stopped by when I was in the garden the other day, he and the other neighbor who cuts hay with him came over to see what i was doing. They marveled at the huge stalks of Incan corn but then I had to tell them about the Litchi. I told them they tasted like a cross of tomato and cherry. Jim was skeptical and so was Andy. The look on their faces after they tried them was one of amazement. Jim didn't like them but Andy was soon getting stabbed to get more of the tasty treats! He said I wasn't kidding when I said they were thorny. But he didn't stop eating them!

We  have decided they are worth the effort. Next year will see a row of them properly staked in the house garden and they WILL make it into the house to be put up for winter treats.

The heat of August did slow them up but now it is a wee bit cooler they are setting fruit again. We did have tomato horn worms on one but we have the beneficial wasps that lay eggs on the hornworms so that did not last long. (We still have no idea how the hornworms made it though the spikey net of thorns but they did.)

So I hope this helps out a bit, they really are great tasting snacks and quite unexpectedly sweet. If nothing else they are great for starting conversations and the flowers are beautiful.

Happy gardening to you all and make jam from thorny situations!


  1. Yikes! I enjoyed your write up on those spiky little buggers. But, alas, I have enough sharp pointed objects around here to annoy me in my adventures (barbed wire, hawthorns, prickly lettuce...) and will just enjoy them from here ;^)