We live on the Galway edge of the Burren. If you have ever visited the west of Ireland you’ll know that the Burren landscape is beautiful. The amazing walks are the main reason we moved to this part of Galway’s wild Atlantic coast.
However, although it is a wonderful place to live it is not quite so wonderful to garden. The reason is the shortage of soil and the abundance of rocks – some of them as big as tables.
Now, don’t get me wrong I love a rock or two, or even a couple of thousand but when you’re trying to find places to plant they tend to get in the way and I have resorted to poking around with a spike looking for somewhere, anywhere, with more than an inch or two of soil.
MY SPECIAL SEAWEED/CARDBOARD/SCRAPPY MIX
To kick-start the garden while I waited for my special seaweed/cardboard/scrappy mix to turn into compost I bought several tons of topsoil/compost mix from a local supplier.
This turned out to be rubbish – the worst soil imaginable – a grey, clay earth which sets like concrete in pots and which proved a very unfriendly environment for plants – until I enriched it with compost (from a different supplier) and topped it up with my above mentioned special seaweed/cardboard/scrappy mix.
POTATOES HERE, POTATOES THERE, POTATOES EVERY CLUCKIN’ WHERE
There were potatoes in my rose beds, flower beds, all my raised vegetable beds – in fact everywhere the rubbish soil went, potatoes were sure to follow.
I composted a lot of the plants, but out of curiosity I left a few in one of my raised beds and a few more in a large rose bed, just to see what would happen.
CURIOSITY KILLED THE ROSE
What happened was that first of all some very healthy potato plants grew with some very pretty pink flowers. I thought they looked quite good in the rose bed although the poor rose was a little overwhelmed.
Then, last weekend I was pulling beetroot out of the raised bed with the potato plants when I saw this:
As you can see, the stalks bear tiny, red, potato-like growths (they are growing above ground) and as you can see in the photo there were also some quite large rooster type potatoes (underground.)
I dug up a few of them for dinner that day and I must say they were quite tasty with a dab of butter and a pinch of salt.
However, when I went to compost these plants I noticed something else – as well as the tiny potato growths on the stalk there were some tiny tomato type fruits at the top of the plants – as you can see in the upper left of the picture below.
I went back to the bed and looked more closely – and saw some more little tomatoes.
TOMATO THINGIES AND OTHER STRANGE FRUIT
Below is a closer picture I took of the potato and tomato, sliced so you case the insides. I have no idea what the red markings are inside the potato but I didn’t cook that one just in case. But you can clearly see the little tomato thingie looks just like the inside of an unripe tomato thingie…
The whole thing was a mystery to me so I did a bit of googling and found this item on the BBC news site.
Apparently an enterprising Ipswich-based horticultural firm, Thompson and Morgan, have developed a new plant called a TomTato which grows potatoes and tomatoes simultaneously.
The growers said the plants were not genetically modified and that they used a grafting process to develop the plant, which they said is ideal for gardeners without the space to grow both.
Sounds like a great idea to me but what I want to know is:
1. Is this what I am growing?
2. If so, how did these seeds end up in a ton bag of rubbish soil bought on the west coast of Ireland?
3. Why are little potato growths growing on the plants – above ground?
(Best answers gets a ton bag of kudos.)
While I figure that out I have decided to save some of the seeds and keep them for next season – nothing like a bit of mystery in the garden for making my garden fingers twitch…
P.S. Big thanks to readers and commenters for solving the mystery. You can read more about the real truth about the potato/tomato plants here.