A horticulture center in the UK has spent the better part of a decade developing something that the vast majority of us didn’t realize the world was missing: a single plant which grows both tomatoes and potatoes. Thompson and Morgan, creators of the TomTato ‘veg plot in a pot,’ claim that the plant’s tomatoes are better tasting than many potato-less varieties, are completely safe to eat, and are in no way genetically modified.
The annual plant can produce up to 500 cherry-sized tomatoes on the vine, which then continues down to a pot where white potatoes grow in the dirt. All in all the, TomTato is a pretty curious sight.
It’s all the result of grafting—the process one uses to ensure the sweetness of the fruit on a citrus tree, and to help an avocado tree bear fruit. Except in the cast of the hybrid tree, it’s a super-fidgety version of grafting.
Talking to the BBC, Thompson and Morgan’s director Paul Hansord explained, “It has been very difficult to achieve because the tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work… It is a very highly skilled operation.”
Lest the TomTato’s creators sound on the eccentric side, Britain’s Royal Horticulture Society is reportedly looking at the plant with interest, and believe that it could be very valuable for the company as an option for budding urban farmers with particularly small gardens or patios. Which makes a good bit of sense, though it’s not entirely clear just how beneficial it is two grow them in one single plant as opposed to growing two smaller plants.
It may be possible that this creation is one that’s been done simply because it can be—and it’s cool, and a bit weird. It’s also, amazingly, not the first: apparently the “Potato Tom” recently went on sale in New Zealand.