For the first few years our winter squash were delicious. We rotate crops yearly and add well rotted manure, bone meal, kelp, cotton seed meal and maybe a touch of lime to the hills we grow our squash in. For the past 5 years, our squash (acorn, delicata, butternut, hubbard, galeux-d-eysines and spaghetti) grow well, get to a good size and are harvested when the vines start to go brown. We give them a drying/hardening period outside, under cover, and then store them in a cool, dry, basement. But, when we cook them they are tasteless, although they do have a good texture. We have grown them all over our garden (60'X80') and they still have no flavor. We buy our seed new from Territorial Seed every spring. Any thoughts on why this is happening or what we can do to grow better tasting winter squash?
Tillamook County Oregon
There can be a few causes of poor flavor, but good texture. It is a balance of sugar and dry matter. Most winter squash are ready for harvest when you can no longer pierce the skin with a thumbnail. Do not wait for the vines to die. Another factor is how the fertilizer is balanced and the soil ecology. Excess nitrogen will raise the water percentage and detract from flavor. Excess water can do the same. The curing and storage process is also important. How long they keep with good flavor is a factor of variety. Delicata, Buttercup, Acorn and Spaghetti lose quality after about 2-3 months. If cured outside, it should be in sun with low humidity. Cure the fruits inside for 5–7 days at 80–85°F/27–29°C with good air ventilation. The curing process will improve storage potential by toughening the skin, and it can speed up the necessary post-harvest storage interval needed by some types for optimal quality.. After curing, store fruits at 50–60°F/10–15°C, with 50–70% relative humidity and good ventilation. Repeated exposure to temperatures below 50°F/10°C may cause chilling damage. Since you once grew good ones, I strongly suspect a soil balance/nutrient problem. Get a soil test with an emphasis on bio-life, pH, organic matter and phosphorus,potassium levels.Get back to me if there are further questions.