Janice Peterson: Plant combines tomato's fruit with potato's root
What do you get when you combine a tomato with a potato?
It sounds like the start of a joke, but this is a reality in the horticulture world. Dubbed a tomtato or pomato, this novelty is created by grafting a tomato plant with a potato plant. Grafting is an ancient horticulture practice where the upper portion of one plant (the scion) is joined to the bottom portion of another plant (rootstock). Grafting is more commonly done on woody plants such as trees or shrubs. If you've ever seen a swollen area on the trunk of a young tree it's probably the graft site. However, grafting can also be done on herbaceous plants. Grafting tomato with potato works because they are closely related members of the nightshade family.
The concept of a tomtato has been around for a while with gardeners having varying luck creating their own grafted tomato/potato plants. Just last year Thompson and Morgan, a seed company out of the UK, became the first to commercially offer this unique plant combo with their TomTato. The TomTato produces cherry tomatoes and white potatoes, all from one plant. A single plant costs the equivalent of $25 USD, but as far as I know they are not yet available here in the States.
I'd love to try one of these and see how it does. A plant uses a lot of energy to produce a fruit or a tuber, and in this case it needs to produce both. How good are the yields? Does it need more than normal amounts of fertilizer?
Grafted plants like these could be great space-savers in the garden. Imagine growing future French fries and ketchup together in one pot! Would you ever try one? What other plant combinations would be cool?
Janice Peterson has worked as a grounds horticulturist at Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville since 2002. She is a master gardener with the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association. Though her education is in plant science, she considers her love of gardening and strong back to be her true qualifications. Janice is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. Her opinion is not necessarily that of The Gazette staff or management.