It sounds like something from a sci-fi film, but a plant which produces both potatoes and tomatoes has been launched in the UK.
Meet the â€˜TomTatoâ€™, a plant hybrid that can produce more than 500 sweet cherry tomatoes above ground, while beneath the soil it produces white potatoes that are suitable for boiling, roasting or turned into mash.
The two-in-one plant was developed by horticultural mail order company Thompson & Morgan.
The hybrid plants are not a product of genetic engineering, but are each individually hand-grafted. Like potatoes, tomatoes are members of the same genome, which makes them compatible for grafting.
Grafted TomTato plants have been around for decades, including from some small British nurseries, but Thompson & Morgan say this is the first time the plants have been widely produced commercially in the UK.
Paul Hansord, horticultural director at the company, said he first had the idea for the plant 15 years ago in the US, when he visited a garden where someone had planted a potato under a tomato plant as a joke.
Hansord said it was 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.
‘Double-crop’ plants like the TomTato could be extremely useful in the future, as they help populations grow more food in smaller spaces. The plant could save on space, time and labour without affecting the quality of the produce.MYNEWSHUB