What’s the Latest Development?
Now available for sale in the UK: “TomTato,” a graft of two plants that produces tomatoes and potatoes at the same time. Paul Hansord of the horticultural firm Thompson and Morgan says it’s the result of 10 years of development: “[T]he tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work…It is a very highly skilled operation.” The plant lasts for a single growing season and was unveiled at the same time a similar version, “Potato Tom,” arrived at garden shops in New Zealand.
What’s the Big Idea?
Unlike genetic modification, grafting involves combining two plants into one by bringing them into close proximity with each other, often by taping two clean-cut ends together. Other tomato-potato combos have been created, but Hansord notes that in those cases “the potato is planted in a pot with a tomato planted in the same pot — our plant is one plant.” Also, past grafts had a problem with taste, something that Guy Barter of the Royal Horticultural Society hopes has been fixed with the TomTato. Besides, he adds, “Many people don’t have that much space in their gardens and I imagine this sort of product would appeal to them.”
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