Grafted trees with more than one kind of fruit are a classic way to maximize yield in small backyards. Now, to celebrate the beginning of 2015, here’s a different two-for-one—supersweet cherry tomatoes grafted onto a rootstock that features a crop of potatoes. It’s all one plant called Ketchup ‘n’ Fries™ by TomTato.®
I talked with Alice Doyle of Log House Plants about this newest combination. Alice certainly knows her grafting. For the past few years, as SuperNatural Grafted Vegetables, LLC., she has partnered with John Bagnasco from Garden Life Radio and Tim Wada of Plug Connection to offer tasty edibles—often heirloom varieties—grafted onto tough disease-resistant rootstock so gardeners get superior production, especially when conditions are less than ideal.
Now Ketchup ‘n’ Fries™ takes vegetable grafting to a whole new place. It’s an update of a nightshade combination first tried by Luther Burbank over a century ago between a tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and a potato (Solanum tuberosum). Named TomTato,® the double cropper took the English gardening world by storm last summer. Now, with its American moniker, Ketchup ‘n’ Fries,™ the unusual combo will make its U.S. debut this spring.
Even the planting instructions are a bit different. Other combined veggies must keep their graft well above the soil. However, “With this one,” Alice says, “you bury the union—you’ll see the bumpy part—at least six inches underground.” That allows the potatoes to develop well hidden by soil and mulch.
While Ketchup ‘n’ Fries™ can thrive in your regular garden plot, if you want high yield in a small space—either on a patio or in a greenhouse—plant in a large container. “The pot should be at least as big as a whiskey barrel,” Alice notes. “That’s a minimum 20 inches across. Bigger is even better.”
But won’t I kill my producing tomato plant when I dig up the roots? Not to worry, Alice tells me. “The hundreds of cherry tomatoes deliver very early, while the white potatoes are a late variety.”
That makes sense to me. Early tomato plants do look worn out by the season’s end. I’ll be glad to cut them down and discover the bounty of potatoes underneath.
These plants are hand-grafted—no genetic modifications here—and will be available for mail order at Territorial Seeds and Garden America, as well as garden centers around the country. I’m going to try them. Let me know how they grow for you.