IT is like an old-fashioned joke. What do you get if you cross a tomato plant with a potato plant?
The answer is, of course, a TomTato plant.
But, on this occasion, it is no joke. The outcome is a reality, with the evidence on view at a Scots garden centre where visitors can see a plant that grows the fruit and veg at the same time.
Cardwell Garden Centre, near Gourock, is the only garden centre in Scotland stocking the TomTato plants.
Staff there are constantly being asked if it’s a joke, or a late April Fool stunt.
But the TomTato plants at Cardwell are definitely for real and once, over the surprise, dozens of people have been buying the young established plants, which are presently about two feet high.
In just over a month, the first tomatoes can be harvested from the plant. And, then, in three months time, potatoes can be dug out of the soil in which the plant has been growing.
The unique vegetable and fruit plant has been created by naturally hand-grafting a tomato plant on to the stem of a potato plant.
Developed over the past 15 years by horticulturists, Thompson and Morgan, the TomTato plant can grow up to 500 sweet-tasting cherry tomatoes and yield up to two kilograms of white potatoes that can be boiled, roasted, mashed or even used to make chips.
The TomTato plants can be grown in the ground as well as in large 40 litre plant pots in small gardens, or even in patios and the balconies of tenements or high-rise flats.
Paul Carmichael, retail manager at Cardwell said: “I suppose you could say people are coming to Cardwell and buy the plant, so they can grow their own chips and tomato sauce.
“We’ve had an incredible reaction from people who think we’re winding them up, but when it’s explained to them they think the TomTato plant is amazing.
“We’re the only garden centre in Scotland being supplied with these plants by Thompson and Morgan and we’re excited about having such an unusual plant for our customers.”