If you love tomatoes and potatoes, you should consider growing pomatoes. This is a garden vegetable created by grafting the potato plant’s roots onto the stem of a potato plant.
The grafting process works well because tomatoes and potatoes are both nightshades, so they easily join together.
In this article, I’ll explore everything you need to know about growing your pomato plants successfully. I’ll look at how pomato plants came about, how to plant them, and how to look after them so that you get a successful yield. Let’s begin!
What Is a Pomato?
A pomato is the grafting of a tomato and potato plant so that you can grow tomatoes on the ground and potatoes under the ground.
This is by no means a modern invention, as it was first developed in the 1930s by Oscar Soderholm. Then, in 1977, the Max Planck Institute in Germany improved the process, as Horticulture reports.
Pomatoes were first mentioned in fiction during the ‘60s, appearing in the novel The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, written by Vladimir Voinovich. In the book, the pomato plant was invented by the antagonist in the book.
Pomato plants are made by grafting a potato plant with a tomato plant so both can grow and thrive in the same space. But you can’t grow a pomato plant from seed because the two plants are still separate from each other.
You’re not getting produce that is a potato and tomato in one; you’re still getting different produce but on the same plant!
To make a pomato plant, you must cut the stem of the tomato and potato plants and secure them together. This joins the plants together so that both types of produce will grow on the plant.
You’ll need to harvest tomatoes on the vine and harvest the potatoes by digging them out of the ground. Basically, the upper section of the graft will produce tomatoes, and the lower section will produce potatoes.
On pomato plants, tomatoes and potatoes will taste the same as they usually do. This is why choosing the sort of tomatoes and potatoes you like the most is essential to get a tasty harvest. Generally, it’s recommended that you use cherry tomatoes and high-quality tomatoes.
These days, anyone can grow pomato plants. Since they were invented, they’ve many consider them a sustainable way to increase food production without using too many resources, such as land.
If you don’t have a large gardening space, you can grow them in a small area, such as on a balcony.
How and When to Plant a Pomato Plant
To plant a pomato plant, you must first graft the tomato and potato plants. Here are the steps to follow:
- Make a “V”-shaped cut in the stem of both plants. This cut should be about one inch (2.54cm) in length and about one-third the thickness of the stem.
- Ensure that the cut is about three inches (7.62cm) from the top of the plants. This ensures that the cuts will line up when you tie the plant stems together, as SFGate reports.
- Slide the “V” shapes you’ve cut into the plants together. Use some grafting tape to keep them fastened.
- When you can see that the plants have been connected properly, you can remove the top part of the potato plant as well as the lower part of the tomato plant.
- Make a cut in the stem of the potato plant at a 45-degree angle. This should be about an inch (2.54cm) above the grafting cut you’ve made.
- Also, cut the lower section of the tomato plant stem, again at a 45-degree angle and an inch (2.54cm) below the grafting joint. This helps you to make one plant out of the two.
- When you see new growth on the plant, you can remove the grafting tape.
When to Plant a Pomato Plant
Since a pomato plant is a tomato and potato plant in one, you need to consider the best times of year to plant these individual plants before you can graft them.
Plant potatoes and tomatoes in spring, to be able to harvest delicious vegetables within just a few months.
How to Care For Pomato Plants
Although your pomato plant doesn’t need any special care, you need to ensure that you give your plants enough nutrients, as both tomatoes and potatoes require some important elements.
Here are some tips for caring for them:
- Plant pomato plants in light, loose soil: Potatoes will be growing underground, so they require space to spread. Avoid heavy soil or compost.
- Use slow-release organic fertilizer: You want to ensure that your pomato plant gets enough nutrition, which should take the form of organic fertilizer. I’d recommend Dr. Earth Home Grown Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer, which is available on Amazon. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, and multi-minerals to ensure your soil is healthy to meet the needs of your tomatoes and potatoes.
- Plant it in full sun: You want your pomato plants to get full-sun conditions, so plant them in an area of the garden that gets a lot of sun daily. If you’re growing tomatoes on their own, sunny conditions are also essential. You can read more in our guide, “The Best Soil For Tomatoes.”
How to Protect Your Pomato Plants From Pests
Pests can attack both potato and tomato plants. Some common ones that attack both of these plants include:
- Spider mites
You can plant companion plants with pomato plants to keep pests such as aphids and thrips at bay. A prime example is marigolds, as they have a strong fragrance that repels pests and insects, which is why they’re a common tomato companion plant.
Although you can grow pomato plants in pots or containers, this isn’t recommended. For example, potatoes grown in the ground produce a better yield than those in containers, as the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources reports.
As for tomatoes, while you can grow them indoors, they shouldn’t be exposed to cool temperatures as this affects their growth rate and can cause the plants to become leggy, which is when they stretch towards a light source because they aren’t getting enough light.
However, growing them in greenhouses or hydroponically can work. When growing pomato plants hydroponically, you have to ensure you give the plants some crucial things:
- Liquid fertilizer: Most nutrients required for plant growth are found in abundant quantities in liquid fertilizer, which is why it’s essential when growing pomato plants hydroponically, as the International Journal of Recycling of Organic Waste in Agriculture reports.
- Perlite: This substance wicks away moisture and is suitable for hydroponics.
- At least six hours of light: As many other fruits and flowers, potatoes and tomatoes need a minimum of six hours of sunshine per day. To read more about this when it comes to starting your own garden or veggie patch, read our guide, “How To Build Your Own Garden Plot.”
Advantages and Disadvantages of Pomatoes
Naturally, pomatoes have many advantages and disadvantages. Here are some things to consider.
- Pomato plants are easy to maintain. Since potatoes and tomatoes have similar requirements, pomato plants are straightforward to care for and grow.
- Pomato plants give you two types of produce. If your pomato plant is grown successfully, you can harvest potatoes and tomatoes. This prevents you from spending money and resources on planting two separate plants.
- Pomato plants save space. These plants don’t take up a lot of space, and you can grow them in small areas of the garden, so they’re great for people with small gardens.
- Pomato plants save resources. By growing two plants in one, you can save resources such as land and water.
- Pomato plants last for one season. The plant will be able to last for just one growing season, which requires you to have to grow it again.
- Grafting can be tricky for beginners. If you’re a beginner gardener, you might struggle to graft the two plants together.
- You can’t grow it from pomato seeds. Since you have to graft the plants, you can’t conveniently grow the plants from seeds. You must first ensure you grow your tomato and potato plants before you can graft them.
- Pomatoes require patience. Potatoes need time to grow. Although you can harvest them early, if you do this, you’ll destroy your tomato crop, so you have to be patient.
If you want to start growing tomatoes and potatoes, you might be intrigued by the idea of the pomato plant, which blends both types of produce.
However, this requires grafting of the two plants together, as well as planning and properly taking care of the plant. Once ready to harvest, you’ll enjoy delicious vegetables.