Saturday, May 8, 2010

My potatoes are growing tomatoes!

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.

22 comments:

Annie's Granny said...

LOL! I have heard about the "tomatoes", but I have never seen any on all the potatoes I've grown through the years. I do know they are poisonous, so I'm glad you looked up the information.

Erin said...

Kate!!! ROFL... All I could think of was that Mother Nature sure is giving you a crash course in EVERYTHING, hahaha, must be the title of your blog - maybe Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor and throws strange things your way and says "Let's see what she does with this one"! I have a few tomatoes in my potatoes too but it's because I am lazy and haven't pulled them out yet (I had old tomatoes in my compost and so they pop up everywhere I put my compost!) But your story is so interesting, I may have to read about it... happy Mother's Day!

Ribbit said...

I have those, too! I'm so excited your potatoes look to be doing so well.

Shell said...

Did you know that in the Gardener's Choice magazine, you can actually order Tomato Potato plants that reproduce both?

I'm leery though. While killing two birds with one stone seems really ingenious, it strikes me as naturally wrong. I'm not for genetically modified foods. :-/

Here's a link:
http://gardenerschoice.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=229

Dani said...

HOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLL!!!! Kate, we just love you!

Happy Mother's Day girlfriend!

Kate and Crew said...

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO YOU ALL!!!!

And happy mom's day to your moms too!

Shell - WOW on that plant!??!! It really does say it grows tomatoes on top and potatoes on the bottom. How weird!! I'm with you - they can keep their genetically engineered crap, tyvm. But I do find it intriguing!! I'd love to see one in action.

Stefaneener said...

Isn't it odd how the relatives express themselves? We have a solanacea weed around here -- always startles me.

On the other hand, your potatoes must be really happy to be fruiting.

Susan said...

I have never heard of such a thing, but I'm glad to know this since we are growing potatoes, too. I will check mine tomorrow. How funny!

Cheryl said...

"Potmato." Love it!

I can't remember where, but I read/heard that the "potato/tomato" plant was a potato with a hold drilled in it and a tomato plant inserted into the hole. Voila, potato/tomato.

donna said...

I'm so relieved you weren't arrested and hauled away to the produce penitentiary.

I need to find more time to read blogs...especially yours. You never fail to amuse and inform.

Hope you had a beautiful Mother's Day.

donna

Heidi said...

LOL! I had the same thing with my potatoes last year, and the same reaction! :) I am really glad it's not just me!

mitchdcba said...

i never thought of this things too.. so funny yet so confusing.. i also have my garden full of tomatoes and I will check if it turns to potatoes.. as vice versa..haha
how to grow tomatoes

Di N Gerry said...

23rd July 2011. 2nd year hubby and I have grown potatoes in small corner of our garden. Last year usual potato plants grow and then start to die away so we can then dig them up. This year our plants were not dying down so impatient hubby decides to dig a few plants up, then i notice "small green tomatoes" hanging off one of the plants!! Omigod!!! more investigation and our potato plants seem to have morphed into tomato plants - big disappointment! so i decide okay i'l make the green toms into chutney, good job i checked with my dad and he says "STOP" they're poisonous dont eat them!!! so get online and here we are now back to potatos growing in the corner :)you learn something new all the time doncha!!

Anonymous said...

I just found tiny tomatoes all over in my potatoes! I felt the same way you did, and was relieved to find more information when I googled "why are there tomatoes on my potato plants". I have never heard of this before and am amazed to fing them poisonous. Mother Nature seems to be telling all different kinds of plants to re-seed this year. Makes you wonder what's in store.

Jenn Deaton said...

I will have you know I just had pretty much the same reaction. This is the first year I have grown Pot. and yesterday I saw a tom growing on my pot plant. I did a search today and this is where I was directed. Great blog. Thank you for clearing this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I, too, have tomatoes on my potato plant and I'm so glad you made sure to tell us they were poisonous. Thank you, thank you!

Mary said...

Oh my goodness, I was just asking my mom about this yesterday. My potato plants are loaded with these also. I've never seen this before so I called my mom and dad to ask them about it too. They have never heard of it either. Dad's advice, check the internet. So glad I did. I can rest easy now that I know it's normal.

Anonymous said...

I just found the same phenomenon on my potato plants, and your blog described my experience with it exactly, down to the concern that I had discovered/unleashed a weird hybrid! Glad to know I am not the only one, and thanks for spreading the knowledge!

shikha lemuel said...

I had the same thing happen for the first time this year. Glad I looked it up. I am guessing it is because of all the rain. That is the only thing different. (from Pennsylvania).

Paul Write said...

I have them all on my plants will I still get potatoes or are they scrap and should I just dig them all up as I have been told to.Paul, Wolverhampton.

Paul Write said...

Are the potato plants any good still or shall I just dig them up

Sandra said...

I have had these "tomatoes" appear for the past two years on the Duke of York variety potatoes though haven't seen them on other potato varieties. The potatoes produced a very high yield and very large, quite delicious potatoes.

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