The Q&A Archives: Bitter Summer Squash

Question: This is my first year of growing Burpee's Pic-N-Pic Hybrid Summer Squash. My two plants were growing beautifully and producing a good crop of squash. However, I ended up with two problems.

1. About 1-3 squash developed large brown spots that looked as if the squash were rotting. Is this bottom-end rot or another problem?

2. Also, I picked my squash at the recommended 6-8 inches but it tastes bitter and terrible. I haven't been able to eat any. What happened here? Am I picking them too early?

Answer: Damp weather is ideal for fungal problems to develop, and you may be seeing something such as anthracnose on the zucchinis -- this would cause sunken spots on the fruit. It occurs in warm rainy weather, can be seed borne, or can survive in the soil and on plant debris, so it is important to rotate your crops and allow adequate spacing between plants. On the other hand, they may simply be waterlogging if your garden is poorly drained. Another possibility is squash bugs have damaged them and rot has set in as a result.

Remove the infected fruit as soon as you see signs of the problem. Avoid overhead watering, and replace the mulch immediately around the plants with a fresh layer. Destroy the old mulch and plant debris to try to limit reinfection.

Bitterness in squash is generally due to fluctuating soil moisture. Water thoroughly as often as needed to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

Hope subsequent fruit is abundant and tasty!

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