Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thursday Lab Update

Since we're coming up on the end of the semester, we aren't really starting too many new projects in lab anymore. Today, however, we all tried our hand at approach grafting to make "Spudmatos", a combination of a potato and a tomato. The way this works is your shave off a piece of the outer layer of stem on both plants, line them up against each other, wrap with para-film and hope for the best. After you're sure the graft is successful, you cut off the top of the potato plant and the root system of the tomato plant and you get one plant, potato on the bottom, tomato on the top. And yes, this plant will grow both types of veggies. Just be warned that, since the plant has to spread nutrients around much more, you won't get as many tomatoes or potatoes as a normal plant of either of these will grow. This is mostly a project that results in a novelty plant that can grow both. That, and it's just fun to say you can actually get plants to do that.

 It's a bit hard to see with the blurriness of the picture, but here's what you wrap up in para-film. The stems need to be pushed together much more than this, leaving no space between. It was just hard to take a picture while pushing them together without my fingers getting in the way. 

 After it's wrapped in para-film, it's potted up in the hopes that the graft will take. The tomato will begin to wilt if the graft is unsuccessful. 

What the whole plant looks like.

The micro-greens took off like chia-pets and all but the basil were ready to go home. Living in a dorm, I don't have much use for micro-greens, but thankfully I have a friend who loves cooking and said he'd gladly take them off my hands. :)

Last week... 
...and this week! :)

I checked my hibiscus plants that have been rooting and found evidence of a little bit of root growth, but I think me pulling them up to examine them might've stressed them out a little bit. I probably should've just left them to root in peace for another week or so.
The grocery produce are still coming along nicely. I'm excited to take one or two of the kumquat trees home. I'll probably keep it as a small ornamental tree, seeing as the north isn't the best place to grow kumquats, but I'm hoping it survives until then.

The baby kumquat trees.

I also found a little coleus plant growing where it shouldn't be in a pot full of goldfish plants. Nearby was a coleus that had just dropped seeds, so I think we found the perpetrator. But it was a different variety than the green coleus I have, so I plucked it out and potted it up.
It's so cute!

The philodendron (which my TA says is a type of peperomia) is also doing really well now that I've taken it out of the mist-house and put it in real soil.

The new shoots are getting really big! :)


  1. What a cool project! How fun to have a spudmato plant! That would make a great and unusual gift for any gardener, too!

  2. That's really cool. When you say line them up, is this with regards to xylem and phloem, or just that both stems are pointing upward? Also, I was just wondering if your college put up lectures on YouTube?

  3. Yup, that's exactly what's going on. You have to line up the vascular tissues or else the nutrients can't flow throughout the plant. If those tissues aren't lined up right the graft will probably fail.
    In regards to the lectures, I haven't found any, but the Minnesota Arboretum has a Youtube channel with lots of cool videos and they'll often collaborate with one of the U of Minnesota campuses. You can find that here:
    There's also a lot of really helpful and interesting information on the U of Minnesota Extension garden section which you can find here.
    Hope you find them helpful! :)

    1. Hi Abby, thanks for getting back to me. The extension looks especially good. That's what I thought about the graft - so I have been paying attention to the books and videos I've been watching :D