New Zealand introduces Potato Tom and the UK introduces TomTato. No, they are not cartoon characters but plants that bear tomatoes on its stem while bearing potatoes through its roots.
Both plants were developed through seedling tomato plant and then grafting it on top of a potato plant.
With the Potato Tom of New Zealand, an article from Fairfax NZ explained that the grafting became successful because potato and tomato belong to the same family of plant. Tomato seedlings were attached to the scion or the upper part of the plant. The scion was then grafted to a growing shoot from a potato tuber.
Meanwhile in the UK, while the TomTato was not the very first of its kind, it is the only tomato-potato grafted plant that can be produced commercially. While there were other variants of grafted plants like the TomTato, it was the only grafted plant that tasted good. In fact, the TomTato tastes better than any tomatoes that can be bought in the market, according to Thompson and Morgan director Paul Hansord.
Thompson and Morgan is the company that created the TomTato. The company also emphasised that the TomTato is not genetically modified and they spent years of developing the plant.
"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. We have seen similar products. However, on closer inspection the potato is planted in a pot with a tomato planted in the same pot - our plant is one plant and produces no potato foliage," Mr Hansord stated.
Guy Barter of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) told BBC in an interview expressed strong interest about the TomTato.
"We're looking at it with real interest because Thompson and Morgan are a really reputable firm with a lot to lose, but I wouldn't rule out that it could be a very valuable plant to them. In the past we've never had any faith in the plants - they've not been very good - but grafting has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Many people don't have that much space in their gardens and I imagine this sort of product would appeal to them," Mr Barter stated.
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