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The Potato, also known as Solanum Tuberosum, was one of the most important things when it came to keeping Mark Watney alive on Mars.

The Hab

In order to stay alive Mark shovelled in Martian dirt into The Hab, mixed it with human 'waste' and, according to the book, a small sample of earth soil so that the earth bacteria, nutrients and other stuff soil contains could multiply. He burned rocket fuel using Martinez' wooden crucifix/cross in order to create water and then grew some potatoes.

The reason he had access to Potatoes in space was because the Ares III crew would have been on Mars during Thanksgiving and NASA psychologists thought it would be good for them if they could have food other then the freeze dried nasty-ish space food, so NASA sent them to space with some potatoes which thankfully still had their seeds in and so were able to be planted to grow more.

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As Watney was the first person to grow anything on Mars, he also technically colonised Mars and was the best Botanist on the entire planet. Because of Watney's love/hate relationship with potatoes and his proud status of 'Botanist' real life person Chris Martine named a new type of bush tomato after him, the Solanum Watneyi.

Airlock Breach

Potatoes 1

When Airlock 1 breached, causing a gaping hole in The Hab, the potatoes were freeze dried and the bacteria in the soil assumed dead. Because of this Mark was unable to grow any more potatoes and could only eat the ones he still had with him.

He later discovered that the bacteria hadn't died, but instead gone into hibernation the way bacteria does on earth when it's cold. This wouldn't have made any difference to Mark's continued survival as the potatoes themselves were unable to reproduce.

3 Potatoes

Martian Potato Recipes

Recipe #1

  • Freeze dry potato.
  • Blast potato in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Dip in ketchup.
  • Eat potato.

Recipe #2

  • Freeze dry potato.
  • Blast potato in microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Run out of ketchup.
  • Crush Vicodin.
  • Dip potato in Vicodin.
  • Eat potato.

Recipe #3

  • Freeze dry potato.
  • Cut into thirds.
  • Pack two thirds of the potato away.
  • Blast the one third potato in the microwave for less than 1 minute.
  • Eat potato.

Recipe #4

  • Freeze dry potato.
  • Cut a line down the middle of potato.
  • Put butter (and if you have any, cheese too) in potato.
  • Blast in microwave for 2 minutes.
  • Eat potato.

Recipe #5

  • DON'T freeze dry potato.
  • Cut potato in half. Make sure seeds are on both sides.
  • Plant the potato.
  • Grow more potatoes.
  • Eat those potatoes.

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