Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Pomato or Totato? Grafting is Fun

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Before we talk about grafting, I just have to get something off my chest.  It rained today!

Thirsty sweet potatoes are happy to see the rain.  Aren't we all!

Okay, it only rained for about 10 minutes while I was in a meeting and the streets were dry by the time I got outside.  But, hey....it hasn't rained here forover two weeks and it may be closer to three weeks now that I think about it.  It doesn't take much to get us excited at this point.  I guess washing my car worked.  :-)

Now, on to my super secret topic that I mentioned we would talk about today:  grafting.  First, let me just say that this new obsession that I have with grafting is being bourne out of all the problems I'm having with my tomatoes.  As you know, I had to rip out one Early Girl tomato due to wilt (fungus) and now a second one is just about gone and it may be spreading to the heirloom Rutgers plant next to it.  I'm scared to death that I'm going to lose my entire tomato bed.  And, from what I've been reading, I'm not the only one with tomato woes this year.

Once your soil is infected with fusarium or verticullium (for example), it can be particularly difficult to get rid of it.  One tactic is to sterilize the soil with steam (very costly!) or to cover over the soil with transparent plastic for the entire summer (no garden for an entire year!)  And, if you have a small garden, rotating your tomato plants as a way to try to deter disease may not be possible. 

Enter grafting.  Basically, it's taking a less vigorous, less resistant variety of plant (which many heirlooms are) with the desirable above-ground characteristics like visual looks, taste, etc. and growing it on a tougher, more disease-resistant and insect-resistant rootstock.   This is actually a practice that has been used for thousands of years and you may be more familiar with it in terms of apple or other fruit trees.  Most trees you buy at nurseries are grafted.  In Japan, 95% of watermelons and oriental melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants are grown with grafting (Ohio State).

In tomatoes, there are two varieties that are used most often as the rootstock:  Beaufort and Maxifort.  Beaufort is best for field tomatoes and Maxifort is best for hoop houses and greenhouses.  Both are extremely tolerant of and Beaufort, in particular, has an extremely strong root system.  We all know that usually results in an extremely strong  plant, because more roots = more nutrients.
Photo courtesy of
LivePlant Farms

There are three methods for grafting, but it essentially involves an Exacto knife to cut the plant stems and grafting clips to hold the two stems together while it heals.  And grafting isn't easy on your pocket book.  Just 50 seeds for the Beaufort rootstock are  over $20.00 at Johnny's Seeds and then it's another for the grafting clips.  Heck, Amazon even sells rootstock.  (Is there anything I can't get at Amazon?)

So here's an idea...how about grafting a tomato onto a potato plant?  Tomato's up top and potatoes down below.  It's possible!  Before you get too crazy with ideas of watersquash or cukatoes, however, just be aware that you can only graft plants together that are in the same genus.

If you're interested in reading more about grafting, here are a couple of interesting resources on the topic:

Wikipedia: Tomato Grafting

And here's a really great video from the folks at Ohio State University that shows how to graft tomatoes: 


What do you think?  Would you try grafting?  I think I just might try it next year.

For more fun, go check out what other folks are up to at the following linky parties:  Rural Thursday and Farm Girl Friday.


  1. That is crazy combining the tomato and potato. I hope your garden isn't a total loss. This year seems to be the worst for anything that requries cooperative weather.

    1. I thought the same thing about the tomato\potato, but apparently it's been done. Couldn't believe it until I read about it. Especially since potatoes are cool season crops and tomatoes like heat!

  2. We've had no rain for a very long time. Hoping for some this afternoon.

    Grafting? Prolly not -- but if you do, please post about it. Thank you for sharing at Rural Thursdays this week.

    1. Hi, Nancy! Hope you got some of that rain. We actually got a pretty good downpour complete with thunder yesterday morning. A good start, but not nearly enough and our temps are headed back up to triple digits this weekend. Ugh...

  3. Following you on FaceBook I found you through the hop, come over for a visit sometime. Your always Welcome, KathyB.

    1. Thanks for the invitations, Kathy B. I'll definitely be over to check it out.


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