Friday, June 26, 2009

Pomato? Totato? Ask the Snarky Farmer!

 It's Friday and time for a trip to Snarkville, via the garden e-mail bag:

Richard writes:
"Hi Fred, I was wondering if you have ever heard of potatoes and tomatoes cross-pollinating.
I planted a 'Yukon Gold' potato and I was looking at the vine the other day and it seems to have clumps of small tomatoes.  I double checked to see if there was a tomato plant growing with the potatoes. Nope. The so-called tomatoes are still green, but if they ripen up, I will send you another note."

A pomato! Or is it a totato? Actually, according to Iowa State University, that next note you send may be from the hospital emergency room:
"Occasionally gardeners are surprised to find small, round, green, tomato-like fruit on their potato plants," says Richard Jauron of the Iowa State Horticulture Department. "These fruit are not the result of cross-pollination with tomatoes. They are the true fruit of the potato plant. The edible tubers are actually enlarged, underground stems. Normally, most potato flowers dry up and fall off the plants without setting fruit. A few flowers do produce fruit. The variety 'Yukon Gold' produces fruit more heavily than most varieties. The potato fruit are of no value to the gardener. Potato fruit, as well as the plant itself, contain relatively large amounts of solanine. Solanine is a poisonous alkaloid. The small fruit should not be eaten. Since potatoes don't come true from seed, no effort should be made to save the seed."

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