Who among us hasn’t been bothered by the fact that when we grow a tomato plant, it produces just tomatoes? Wouldn’t it be much better if that plant grew both tomatoes AND potatoes? Well, happy day, now there’s a Franken-plant that does just that! From the top, you harvest cherry tomatoes, while the roots produce a bumper crop of spuds. Truly, we live in the best of all possible worlds!
How is this possible, you ask? Well, the tomato and potato are closely related. They both belong to the nightshade family, Solanaceae, a very poisonous group. In fact, every part of these two is poisonous except for the fruits and tubers that we eat. Recently, growers in the U.K. grafted the roots of a potato onto the stem of a tomato.
Voila! A plant that bears cherry tomatoes on the top and white potatoes on the bottom.
Now for the important part. What shall we name this new plant? Well, we could call it “Bob,” but that gives us no idea what kind of plant it is, even if it reminds us of Bob. Shall we then call it a “totato?” A “pomato?” A “tud?” The Brits first introduced it as “TomTato,” but then decided to market it in America as “Ketchup ‘n’ Fries.” This is a fortunate choice, considering that “Blood Pudding ‘n’ Chips” was also in the running.
You can’t buy seed for “Ketchup ‘n’ Fries,” because a seed would give you either a tomato or a potato, but not both. As I said before, this is a grafted plant and is only sold as a plant. In spring, you could have ordered it from Territorial Seed Company, but they’re all sold out for this year. However, plants have been distributed to independent garden centers, and if you’re lucky, yours might still have some. (No, I don’t know the closest source to your back yard.)
Now that we’ve entered the brave new world where twofer plants do double duty, what combinations would you like to see for your garden? How about the “Love Apple” (apples on the top, oysters on the roots)? Perhaps you long for “Okra Cola” (produces okra pods and cola nuts enabling the marriage of two signature Southern flavors in one refreshing beverage)?
I’m holding out for the “Has Bean.” It’s a green pea whose pods are filled with delicious, sweet seeds bearing the likeness of Tiger Woods.
Coming This Sunday
What the heck is going wrong with your tomato plants? Grumpy reveals the causes and cures of the most common tomato disasters.