Forum home Fruit & veg

Potatoes that turn to mush when cooked

Hi All,

It's our first year of having an allotment & we have planted 10 rows of potatoes.

The other plot holders have told us that they have problems with earlies & lates turning to mush when boiled. The soil is a very light clay well drained - the site is about 5 years old.

Some say lack of water other to much feed - any suggestions please.









  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,363

    Some spuds go to mush more easily than others, I've always thought it was down to variety of spud.

    See how yours go, maybe the rest of the allotmenteers are poor cooksimage

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • BraithBraith Posts: 13

    Hi Both,

    Being more than alarmed at having planted 18kg of various varieties ( yes far to many for two of us we've been told) I asked the old hands & each have tried different varieties

    some used horse manure others cow  muck & compost some watered others did not and all said when cooked they went to mush. Looking around the plots all the potatoes are much taller than ours so perhaps to much feed??



  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    It really all depends on the variety - some will go into soup as soon as you have turned your back but other varieties will stay whole.

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391

    There are as many answers to this one as there are gardeners!  My own experience is that it's mainly down to variety and also strongly affected by how much rain the crop gets at certain stages of tuber development.  When the time comes, try boiling a few.  If they break-up too easily then you'll just have to boil them in their skins, steam them instead or cook them in some other way.  I find that a crop which does this can be parboiled and then roasted to give superb results.  image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • I suggest you steam the potatoes as they won't go into mush (medium sized spuds take 30 mins without watching over them) and it is a healthier way of cooking them as opposed to boiling them where you have to keep a constant eye for fear of water boiling over.  This time of year when I steam potatoes, I add a few sprigs of mint from the garden and place them on top of the potatoes for an extra bit of flavour.  New potatoes are small so I suggest 20 mins steaming max.  If you try this method ,,,, you will never again boil potatoes ... old or new!!!

  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,987

    Mine usually get done in the microwave.  image  Who in the world plans their dinner more than half an hour prior to food on the table?!

    Utah, USA.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,996
    Blue Onion wrote (see)

    Mine usually get done in the microwave.  image  Who in the world plans their dinner more than half an hour prior to food on the table?!

    Me image  I enjoy cooking. Supper is prepped after lunch so it can be cooking while I'm in the garden if need be and the potatoes put on to cook when I come in to wash and change.  Don't have a microwave. Had one, don't need it, didn't use it, waste of valuable kitchen space.

    Mushy potatoes are mainly down to using the wrong type of potato for the dish planned.  Some dishes need waxy potatoes, some need smooth and some need fluffy ones.   Often the person making the decisions on the allotment isn't the one making the decisions in the kitchen - the allotmenteer chooses the varieties that give a good yield, are blight resistent etc, rather than choosing for potato type - whereas the person in the kitchen often decides on the menu without knowing which type of potato the allotmenteer has grown.  It all comes down to a lot of people needing to know more about potatoes! image

    This is a really helpful website

    You can check on the best type of potato for the dish you're planning and check the varieties that will give you that result.

    Or if you already have your potatoes, check the variety against the recommended recipes etc.


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • BraithBraith Posts: 13

    Thanks all.

    The plants look healthy so here's hoping they are a success in the kitchen! A few weeks and the earlies will be dug - will report the results.



  • Crazy CatCrazy Cat Posts: 41

    Hi Sioux,

    Your question is very interesting!  From a scientific perspective,

    • early/main spuds have different dry matter content) so if both types go to mush, it would suggest the problem is the soil, not the breed image

    The two possible causes I think would be most likely may be:

    1. If your clay drains quick, it would suggest the clay has a poor my number one suggestion would be potassium deficiency. Liquid fertiliser won't be much help, but a granular slow release fertiliser added periodically as you earth-up the spuds may help? The plants may not show typical potassium deficiency symptoms, as what little pot is in the soil gets sent to the plant first, (leaving the tubers deprived). 
    2. Another possibility is that because your soil is free draining are people watering regularly? Too much water at once, followed by the soil draining and becoming dry, can have an impact of fibre content in crops, which would explain the mushiness in both early and main spuds. Although if people are mulching, this does seem a little unlikely...

    That's me out of ideas, but fingers crossed your spuds turn out okay. Either that or use them for mash image

    Best of luck!



  • BraithBraith Posts: 13


    I think you may well have hit the nail on the head. At home heavy clay soil never had any problems but the plot soil is very light clay.

    I've noticed the "old hands" water daily and use the "miracle powder" their potato tops are very tall and lush. We have just used standard 7-7-7 & the plants although fairly short look sturdy.

    We look forward to trying the earlies in a few weeks!!!



Sign In or Register to comment.