We have been growing the grafted Mighty Matos for about 5 or 6 years now and this season we are adding a grafted pepper; the Big Bertha Bell Pepper and a grafted cucumber; the CoolCumber. The practice of plant grafting dates back over 4000 years and originated in China. In short, one plant is selected for roots another plant is selected for its above ground characteristics. This is a mechanical process and not any type of genetic modification. In the case of the grafted vegetables, the root stocks are chosen for vigor, hardiness and resistance to soil pathogens and the scion (the upper part) is from the desired (and compatible) vegetable. With a vigorous root stock, the plants will be able to access more water and nutrients resulting in higher and longer period yields and even added drought tolerance. The root stock has resistance to some of the more common fungal and viral diseases, again contributing to higher yields.
The Mighty Mato line up consists of Sweet Million, Early Girl and Big Beef. They are all indeterminate and continue to produce fruit until the weather cools. The fruit is the same as a regular variety but there is 2 to 5 times more of it! The Sweet Million is a cherry tomato less than one inch in diameter and produce fruit approximately 65 to 75 days from planting. The Early Girl produces a 4 to 6 ounce fruit on a 50 to 60 day time line. The Big Beef has a 12 to 16 ounce tomato in 70 to 75 days. All of these will thrive in the ground and with the disease resistant root stock they can be planted in the same spot year after year without problems. If they are going to be grown in a container it is recommended to use one with at least a 15 gallon capacity. Where ever they are planted the will need a sturdy support as the plants can grow to 5 to 6 feet tall and produce more fruit than they can hold up on their own.
The Big Bertha produces an extra-large Bell Pepper about 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. It starts out a nice bright green and matures to a shiny red. The fruit is thin walled with few seeds. It has a crisp texture and a sweet taste that develops a mild heat with maturity. These extra-large peppers are also great for stuffing. The Big Bertha plant can grow to 3 to 5 feet tall and 18 to 24 inches wide so use a tomato cage or other type of support for these. Big Bertha also has extra disease resistance. The CoolCumber is a Khassib type that produces a mini cucumber about 3 to 4 inches long that is medium green and spineless. The texture is crisp and the flavor is sweet. The plant is vigorous and productive producing through the summer, hot weather is no problem, and into the early fall. These plants are resistant to powdery mildew and like good drainage. They are best planted on hills or raised beds with a trellis or teepee to keep them off the ground.