Granted I still have a lot to learn about gardening, but what I saw the other day confused me and made me doubt what knowledge I have picked up along the way. I was watering the garden and admiring the gigantic bushy potato plants that have overtaken the scenery in one of my raised beds when a little something caught my eye. I leaned in and saw a little green tomato that had fallen off one of my tomato plants and landed on my potato plant.
I remember having a fleeting thought about how strange it was that a little green tomato had fallen upward about 12 inches from where it was growing - and over one full garden bed to land on my potato plant. I thought it was bizarre so I reached out to grab it and chuck it on the ground. When I grabbed a hold of it, the thing was stuck and not laying loosely on a leaf like I expected. Obviously some sort of vine had wrapped around it so I looked at the stem of the little tomato to see why it wasn't moving. Turns out it was stuck because the TOMATO WAS GROWING OUT OF MY POTATO PLANT.
And when I looked deeper, there were little tomatoes growing all over on my potato plant. You can't imagine the thoughts that ran through my mind. What had I done? Had I inadvertently created a new species of plant by violating some plant law and planting potatoes and tomatoes too closely? Why wasn't this in the gardening book? Were there tomato seeds in my compost that had morphed with my seed potatoes? Had my lack of gardening skills led me to single-handedly mess with Mother Nature, possibly causing some horrible potmato hybrid to take over the world?
So I came inside and called Farmer B and my mom right away. They both had the same startled reaction and doubted my sanity and my discovery. So I did a quick internet search to see if anyone else had created such an abomination or if there was some sort of number I should call to turn myself in to the proper agricultural authorities. I was relieved and surprised that a lot of people have found tomatoes growing from their potatoes and were equally surprised by them.
Turns out this is normal. The round green cherry-tomato-looking fruit actually are the fruit of the potato plant and not real tomatoes. We eat the tuber, but the fruit is what the plant produces, complete with seed in there for growing future plants (although I read that these plants can be iffy, so best to start with seed potatoes and not actual seeds). The potato and the tomato are both in the nightshade family, which explains why the fruits look similar. However, they're poisonous, so you don't want to chop one up and put it in your salad and you might want to tell your kids to leave them alone.
Phew. I could walk free another day.