# Are there any good uses for infinite grass and potatoes

Based off a previous question of mine here, concerning how a rapid growing weed-like grasstato, which is grass above ground, and potato underground, and how if there was infinite food for people in a medieval setting, how would the poverty-stricken life be like.

Anyways, so some comments pointed out that the grasstato could grow as fast as bamboo, being capable of growing 10 inches vertically a day, and, this is my own version, probably 4 feet horizontally a day.

One thing to note is that the grasstato only grows in this one specific kingdom because of magic, and besides being fast growing, the grass of the grasstato is regular grass, and the potato of the grasstato is regular potatoes

What this means is that there will be a lot of grasstato growing all over the place like a menace, in any crack their spores can find, which is one of the main reasons they need faster ways of using it all up. Aside from feeding the grass to the many horse that are there, and feeding the potatoes to the people who live there, is there any large scale industrial use of grass or potato?

Don't forget that this is in a late-medieval magical setting. Also, this is my entry for the Fortnightly topic challenge #2: Flora.

• if it tends to get in every crack then it will destroy buildings. – ratchet freak Feb 23 '15 at 10:45
• @ratchetfreak which is why they need a better way of using it than just eating it – grimmsdottir Feb 23 '15 at 10:46
• Ever consider you might get a giant rodent problem (mole?) from all these edible roots growing everywhere? – Twelfth Feb 24 '15 at 22:04
• Have you decided if the magic is also going to provide super-fertile soils? Because the grasstato will inevitably dominate its whole ecological niche, then overgrow other plants and create grasstato jungles. Now, where there has been jungles and forests already, the grasstato might find equilibrium with parasitic minor plants growing in between, but for the majority of terrain grasstato would cause desertification, sucking in all the nutrients from the soil until its barren. Finally, some areas might have cycles of grasstato growth followed by mass dying. – eimyr Feb 26 '15 at 15:45
• One thing that may be worth considering in this scenario is war. One of the biggest factors in a conventional war is provisioning your troops. It sounds like this would supply any army with inexhaustible forage indefinitely, completely changing wartime mechanics. No supply train necessary, no starving an entrenched enemy. It's hard to even imagine what the consequences would be. Food supply is one of the main ways of forcing an enemy to fight on your terms, so I can envision a lot of situations where two armies just don't fight, because each is waiting for a better opportunity and has time. – Bryon Mar 17 '15 at 13:37

At the rates of growth you are talking, either people would have to be nomads, constantly moving because any structure would be almost impossible to keep from being overrun, or you would need an effective herbicide that can be reasonably long lasting for areas, and shouldn't be too toxic to humans. Something that could be applied once a week or month to an area. The growth rate you are talking about would take half a town most of it's time picking the potatoes and keeping them back.

Of course they could also build underground with some doors and windows to the outside world, keeping a few openings free and clear would be a lot less work, then towns would just look like rolling hills of grass to the uneducated. Could be safer against attacks too.

They can start distilleries which can export grasstato vodka to the surrounding countries.

The grass part of the grasstato can be used as fuel in the distillation process, while the potato part can be used as the starchy product for fermentation.

• "What's a good use for this?" "Booze." $\to$ #1 answer. – KSmarts Feb 24 '15 at 21:34
• What would society be like in this kingdom, with a practically limitless supply of cheap alcohol? – KSmarts Feb 24 '15 at 22:40
• Sounds like dwarf fortress... – kutschkem Mar 3 '15 at 14:03
• And once everyone's permanently drunk, you can upgrade to biodiesel production and give them heavy machinery to operate, too! – Maxander May 6 '15 at 16:56

I prefer the vodka in March Ho's response. Next would be a way to get much cleaner water than from a river or lake. River water used to be mixed with an alcohol to kill germs - instead, you could extract the water from the grasstato (potatoes have the highest water content of any staple), and use the remaining part of the potato for distillation of its sugars.

Grass has been used to make paper since at least 2400 BC, so there are your labels for the vodka bottles (that was just for fun - you could use it for many paper products).

This was touched on in your horse question, but with infinite vegetation you could have near infinite livestock.

Goats may provide a good solution for both keeping some land clear of grasstatoe and providing your people with a source of protein and surplus goats, cheese, and hides for trade.

This may sound like a joke but in some places you can rent goats for land clearing.

How many goats do you bring and how long does it take?
This isn't a simple formula. While we have 100 goats, we have to consider what kind of vegetation is on the land, how much is there, and how many goats a property can hold. On our sample video jobs, there were 30 goats used for 48 hours on a .3 acre neighborhood property, and 50 goats used for 12 days on a 4 acre property with thick forest vegetation. Eco-Goats will estimate how many goats and days you will need for your unique property at the time of our initial evaluation.

You can ferment Ethanol from potatoes.

Given your setting you don't want people to have personal vehicles, but what about commercial or military manufacturing, using grasstato ethanol as the power source to supply big engines?

If you want to extend the grasstato to being a little more bamboo-like, with big thick stalks as part of the above-ground portions, there is a whole wealth of things you can do with bamboo. New shoots are good for food for both people and animals (once treated, anyway--they contain a cyanogenic chemical in them that can cause a world of poisoning if they're eaten in the untreated form); grown stalks can be harvested and used exactly like wood in construction, decoration, textile making, and so on. Wikipedia, naturally, has a thorough but not exhaustive list of uses. There are many other such lists available, if you search for "uses of bamboo" on your favorite search engine.

If we're just talking what's actually known as "grass" though--and there's lots and lots of things that fall into that category, among them many of our cereal grains, sedges, reeds like water chestnuts and papyrus--there's still a whole bunch of uses they can be put to. Combining it with that ever-present horse manure in the setting and condensing it into bricks--for building or for burning--is one easy option. Then there's weaving it, to make baskets, thatch roofs, or fabric (grasscloth). The seeds can be used as food as well (this is, after all, how we get wheat, wild rice, and a number of other cereal grains), or fermented to make beer. Unfortunately one of the better uses of grass--sod bricks for building--probably will not work the grasstatoes, since sod relies on the propensity of grasses to make tight interlocking root networks and having random tubers in there would disrupt that.

As for the potato part, well--the uses of potatoes for vodka have been well-covered, but there are various and sundry other things you can do with them. In purely food-based uses, potatoes can also be rendered for starch that can be used for baking, or fed--either raw or cooked--to farm animals, though they can't be the only source of feed. Potato starch can also be used to make adhesives, and in a more modern setting, plastics. Since there's magic in this setting, you might be able to come up with a way to magically process grasstato tubers into potato-starch plastic--then imagine the sort of economic havoc the grasstato kingdom might be able to unleash as the sole producers of plastics in the setting. Then there's also some more mundane but still unusual non-food uses of potatoes that the people of your kingdom would also figure out, like using them in wound healing, or using water from potato boiling to polish up tarnished silver. (I'm trying to find a better reference than HGTV and Reader's Digest for these, but I can't seem to right now. Here are some links, though.)

Basically, both grass AND potatoes are fantastically useful, so there's a lot that could be done with them.

Just as rocks and sticks were, something this common in an area would be almost guaranteed to become weaponized. Magic-based rapid-fire potato guns? The alcohol answers provided by others could be used for firebombs.

Since it seems that these grasstatos are EVERYWHERE, this means that food is incredibly cheap - even more so if harvesting can be brought to industrial scale. This means the kingdom will export cheap grasstato products, especially food. This will lead other countries to focus on other goods, maybe even becoming dependant on grasstatos themselves, or even suffering economic collapse. An easy remedy is charging customs for import from the grasstato kingdom, which means trade with other kingdoms is expensive and limited.

Well considering the growth rate you are talking about, the best way to use it is to burn it. Either just to produce heat, or to make energy if technology is sufficient.

• Unfortunately, I believe grass and potatoes tend to be extremely wet, so burning it would be not easy – grimmsdottir Feb 25 '15 at 2:01