December 18 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
A horticultural firm is launching a new plant which produces cherry tomatoes and potatoes at the same time.
Ipswich-based Thompson & Morgan is expecting “huge” interest in the remarkable product, which it has called a TomTato, and describes it as “a major horticultural breakthrough”.
The specially hand-grafted plants will soon be available to UK home gardeners for the first time.
Above the ground, gardeners can pick more than 500 cherry tomatoes with a a high sweetness level combined with acidity to create a good taste.
Below the ground they will find a crop of versatile white potatoes which can be boiled, mashed, roasted or made into chips.
The concept has been worked on for more than 15 years but this is the first time that plants have been successfully produced commercially, the company, which was established in Ipswich in 1855, said.
Tomatoes are members of the potato or Solanaceae family to give it its horticultural name and are therefore naturally compatible with potatoes, and each plant is hand-grafted to create the unique double-cropping feature.
“There’s no genetic modification - it’s an all-natural and completely safe process,” said Thompson & Morgan, which says the plants are easy to grow and can be put inside or outside, in a large patio pot or a 40 litre bag, or on an allotment or vegetable patch.
Paul Hansord, T&M’s horticultural director, said he was excited about bringing the TomTato to market.
“When I first saw this plant, I was amazed. Potatoes and tomatoes on the same plant? You really have to grow TomTato to believe it,” he said.
“The TomTato has been trialled for several years and the end result is far superior than anything I could have hoped for, trusses full of tomatoes which have a flavour that makes shop tomatoes inedible, as well as, a good hearty crop of potatoes for late in the season.
“It has been very difficult to achieve the TomTato 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.”
Thompson & Morgan, a horticultural mail order company, produces a range of products including seeds, young plants, bulbs, seed potatoes, onion and garlic sets, soft fruit and fruit trees, as well as an extensive range of gardening supplies.