Gardening Gone Mad: Meet the Tomato-Potato Plant!

June 11, 2015 | By | Comments (5)
Tomato-Poato Plant

Photo: zmescience.com

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.)

Future Franken-Plants
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.

 

 

COMMENTS

  1. Han

    Thats the coolest thing Ive ran into since I started gardening this year. Have got to try it !!!

    June 15, 2015 at 1:09 pm
  2. Carmen

    Apparently Oakmoss doesn’t understand that Grumpy is a funny guy with a sense of humor. By the way, where do beer nuts come from, Grumpy?

    June 14, 2015 at 7:25 pm
  3. Marti

    Wow, Oakmoss, what a killjoy.

    June 12, 2015 at 2:13 pm
  4. Kathleen

    “Perhaps you long for “Okra Cola” (produces okra pods and cola nuts enabling the marriage of two signature Southern flavors in one refreshing beverage)?”
    *************************
    Perhaps, but I think cola & peanuts would make more sense.🙂

    June 12, 2015 at 1:18 pm
  5. Oakmoss Education

    This article contains some misleading terminology. The plant referred to is a product of grafting, not a “franken-plant” (which is a term used for genetic modification). Grafting and hybridization of related species goes back a many, many generations. We would not have all the apple varieties today if it were not for grafting. Genetic modification (franken-plant) is the crossing of UNRELATED species and is NOT the same as hybridization, which also can (and has) occur naturally in the wild. Both potatoes and tomatoes belong to the nightshade family and so this grafting technique makes sense. For gardeners, it is important to understand plant families because diseases and pests can often effect different species across that family. In this example, it is important not to plant members of the nightshade family in the same space every season so to help ward off various blights, which stay active in the soil. So tomatoes, tomatillos and potatoes should never be planted in the same spot in the garden from year to year but, instead, should be rotated.

    June 11, 2015 at 1:43 pm

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