Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Two Vegetables in the Space of One?

20150622Did you know that you can graft a tomato stem onto a potato plant and thus produce both tubers and fruits on the same plant and in the same space? This is possible because both plants are very closely related, belonging to the genus Solanum (S. lycopersicum for the tomato, S. tuberosum for the potato). And the two tastes don’t mix: the tomatoes will still taste like tomatoes and the potatoes, like potatoes. There is even name for this new vegetable: it is generally called the pomato, although the term tomtato is also used.

Occasionally you’ll see ads offering pomatoes by mail, but the price is usually exorbitant (grafting requires additional human handling and very precise manipulation at that, and that adds to the cost). The result is that these ads rarely last long. After a year or two, the supplier simply disappears.

Of course, you can do the grafting yourself and save money, but there is a problem with pomatoes: they tend to be slower to produce tomatoes, which mature a month later than normal. In cold climates where the growing season is already limited, growing pomatoes is therefore not very interesting. In hot climates, though, the idea is gaining in popularity. In Kenya, for example, where the lots are very small, farmers grafting pomatoes themselves rapport they can almost double their profits at no extra cost and without increasing the size of their lot.

For most gardeners covered by this blog, the pomato is more a curiosity than a practical way of gardening. But if you want to experiment with the idea, go right ahead!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “Two Vegetables in the Space of One?

  1. Pingback: Ketchup and Fries from the Same Plant | Laidback Gardener

  2. I have grafted tomato and potato a bunch of times over the years, it is not difficult to do yourself. I have to agree that it isn’t worth while if you are after two decent sized crops.

    I have done a few trials to see what the crop was like on a grafted plant versus the non-grafted plants. The potatoes from the grafted plants crop much less than non-grafted ones and the tomato yield from the grafted plant is much lower than non-grafted ones.

    Grafting the top of a potato onto the roots of a tomato can help the potato flower and set fruit which can be useful if you are trying to get true potato seed.

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