The potato is not a vegetable! (and it fruits)
It’s been a real week of potato based revelations for us in the Golembunker, all spurred on by a mysterious green fruit that has grown out of one of the old and sprouting baking potatoes we chucked into a bucket in the garden at the beginning of the year.
Up until 2 weeks ago I didn’t know it was possible to get potato flowers (ours were small and purple) and I had less idea that potatoes produced fruit, but now I know better. Specifically they produce small, hard, green fruit about the size of a cherry tomato an example of which now hangs proudly from the top of our spud plant much to the disbelief of my friends and has led to some thorough googling to find out what the hell is going on.
I can proudly tell you now that although potatoes don’t usually fruit it’s not hugely uncommon (it is pretty uncommon really) and even more confusingly, they aren’t even a real vegetable! The potato it appears belongs to the same family as tobacco, tomato, belladonna, mandrake and aubergine… all members the “deadly nightshade” or Solanaceae family and its fruit is highly poisonous being as they are, rich in solanine.
The potato itself actually grows on the potato plant, differing it from other vegetables where they are more commonly defined by the virtue that the body of the plant is the bit you eat. The potato is more like a fruit in all respects and can probably be most correctly classified as a tuber. The actual fruit itself is much more interesting in that it contains approximately 300-500 seeds and that the seeds will not come true, meaning they will not produce the same type of potato that spawned them. In order to grow the same potato type you planted it absolutely HAS to be by planting a potato of that same type and not through seeds of the same plant, as such nobody seems to bother planting potato seeds at all unless they are attempting to create a new potato type.
So there we go, in a few weeks we will have a handful of mystery potato seeds and presumably when we liberate the spud from its bucket later in the year a lot of Sainsburys variety baking potatoes, isn’t gardening fun!