SCREENGRAB FROM THOMPSON AND MORGAN
(CBS) Looking to make a fresh batch of fries, with a side of ketchup? Well, you can now make it all with the produce of just one plant: meet the TomTato. Or the Potato Tom.
Whatever you call it, the plants are now available in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The U.K.-based gardening mail order firm Thompson and Morgan introduced the hybrid tomato-potato TomTato plant on Thursday. The Potato Tom hit New Zealand garden centers earlier this week.
Once planted, the TomTato looks like a standard tomato plant, sprouting more than 500 cherry tomatoes. But pulling it out of the soil reveals a full-grown patch of white potatoes hanging from the roots.
The plant lasts for one season, with the tomatoes and potatoes ripening at the same time. The firm says can be grown indoors or outdoors, in a regular 40-liter bag or pot. It is not genetically modified, as it was created through a process called grafting.
Grafting means successfully joining two plants into one, so that the flowering area of one plant (in this case, the tomato) is combined with the more sturdy or vigorous roots of another plant (the potato).
The stems of the plants are first sliced, and then secured together as they start to naturally bind. They eventually form into one plant. The process is most successful when the plants come from the same species, as do the tomato and potato.
Thompson and Morgan director Paul Hansford told the BBC that the firm has been working on grafting these two plants for more than 15 years.
"It has been very difficult to achieve because the tomato stem and the potato stem have to be the same thickness for the graft to work," he said.
Similar plants have been created through grafting, but never on a commercial scale. And they always seemed to lack a crucial element: taste.
But these tomatoes, Hansford claims, are hardly lacking in taste. In a video posted on the Thompson and Morgan website, he calls the tomatoes "sugary yet tangy."
Thomson and Morgan is selling the TomTato for 14.99 British pounds, or about $24.
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