Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Potato math

I've been considering trying to grow potatoes.  This is to get a yield in the short term (they are not perennial.)  It is said that they can yield very highly in terms of calories per acre, and that they like the moderate soil temperatures of the northern states.

I would want to intercrop them with some beneficial companion plants. "The internet" suggests petunias, amaranth, sweet alyssum, beans, corn, cabbage, marigolds, and horseradish are possibilities.

Here is some potato math:

One serving of potato at 150 grams or 1/3 pound has 110 calories.

So, if I wanted 1000 calories a day from potatoes for a whole winter (250 days) that would require 750 pounds of potatoes.

According to, potato yield per acre is in the range of 5000 to 40,000 pounds per acre.  At the low end then, I would need 0.15 acres to get 750 pounds, which is 6550 square feet or 81 feet on a side planted solid.  I don't think I dare plant such a large area on the first try.  Even at the high yield end it would still take 28x28 feet to get 750 lbs.  

Mountain valley produce has on online chart of planting spacing.  Basically they put about one seed potato every 3 square feet, so you'd need to plant 300 to 2000 pieces.  

Here is the latest version of my Thai-rish Potato recipe:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet.  Add a dash of red cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup bean sprouts, and stir-fry a minute or two.  Then add one fry-cut potato (sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch pieces), a golf-ball sized lump of peanut butter, 1/4 cup of dry-roasted peanuts, and 1 cup of local, sustainably-harvested, microbiologically-safe, organic, fair-trade, hormone-drug-antibiotic-and-conflict-free water.  Bring to boil, then reduce to medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally,  until sauce is no longer watery.  Serves one or two, sprinkle salt to taste.

I've been making this as a breakfast dish, it is pretty hearty and should hold you 'til lunchtime. The simmering down does take some time, like if you were making a pancake breakfast.   You can skip the stir-fry and make it with only regular conflict-free water, potato, peanut butter, and black pepper, but it is not quite as nice and you will probably want to add more salt.

No comments: