6 Reasons Why Your Vegetables Are Bitter

Fresh spinach growing in a garden bed, possible bitterness in vegetables due to growing conditions.

Ever wonder why your vegetables are bitter?

Bitter vegetables are a product of stress on plants. The chemicals that cause bitterness are usually present in the plant but can also move into the fruit. It can be caused by excessive watering, drying, or a non-optimal environment. Try to reduce plant stress by conserving water and fertilizing it properly to alleviate the problem.

Knowing the bitter taste of your vegetables will help you save your crops so you can enjoy their good taste and natural sweetness. Sometimes inexperienced gardeners need clarification on the fact that the things they grow are not as good or tasty as they buy. Growing your vegetables usually produces beautiful fresh food, but you will often be surprised by an unpleasant, bitter taste.

There are several explanations for this.

It’s just that the taste is sometimes more robust and fresher, and you need to get used to it.

Why Are My Garden Vegetables Bitter?

1. Dry Conditions

Hot, dry weather can produce bitter vegetables for long periods. Nothing can be done to regulate the heat, but keeping vegetables well-watered can help counteract their tendency to become vegetable taste bitter. Soak vegetables at least one inch deep each week, more during prolonged dry periods, and mulch the area around the roots during the planting season.

Temperatures should be between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, as these are fresh seasonal vegetables. According to the University of Missouri, vegetables can taste bitter greens when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Sugars may not have formed in vegetables; therefore, terpenoids may remain high.

If the outside temperature rises, mulch the vegetables to keep the soil cool. You can cover the vegetables as soon as possible for the best results.


One way to protect vegetables from heat is mulching. Mulching helps to keep the plants moist when the heat gets cooler and colder. So you should try to store fresh mulch compost leaves, like deep garden mulch, when it gets very hot!

2. Lean Soil

Other features of bitter vegetables are lean soil and a general lack of nutrients. Vegetables are heavy in nutrients. So the soil rich in organic matter can, therefore, help to grow less stressed and flavorful vegetables.


Give your vegetables a good fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks if your soil is less than ideal.

3. Lack Of Sunlight

Cloudy areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, reported bitter vegetables due to lack of sunlight. Again, monitoring the hours of sunshine is impossible, but you can plant in an area that gets all the sunshine nature allows. If the weather is cool and humid but overcast, underground vegetable growth, like a polytunnel, will intensify the available heat and light.

Partial shade, especially during the hottest hour of the day, protects your vegetable crops and gives them a bitter taste. Use taller crops to protect your vegetables from direct and absolute sunlight in your garden.


If you live in a highly fluctuating environment, consider gardening with straw bales and joint covers to work in a way that minimizes drastic temperature changes.

4. Harvesting Too Young

According to the World Carrot Museum, removing vegetables from the ground when they are young and tender can give them a bitter or savory taste. Different varieties of vegetables may contain a higher amount of terpenoids, which appear in the vegetable before the sugars. They may not contain enough sugar when the vegetables are picked when they are young, giving them a bitter taste.

Harvest vegetables when they are half an inch in diameter and start picking them until they are ripe during the growing season. Most vegetables ripen within 60 to 70 days if growing conditions are favorable.


Vegetables can be picked at any time of day in early spring when the weather is mild. However, picking vegetables early in the morning is safer until the heat comes on. As temperatures rise, the leaves taste bitter, regardless of the shape of the vegetables grown. Also, remember to harvest them the right way.

5. Improper Storage

Vegetables must be appropriately stored after harvest to maintain their freshness. It is best to store vegetables separately from apples and pears in the freezer drawer. The Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture suggests that extracting ethylene gas from these vegetables will help increase the bitter taste of vegetables.

Cut off the tops of the vegetables and store them in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator for three to four weeks. The green tops only last two to three days on vegetables and should be stored separately.

Wheelbarrow filled with fresh, colorful garden vegetables, ready for harvest.


Wash vegetables and store them in a plastic bag or container. Spread vegetables between paper towels to help control moisture. Do not put vegetables in the same drawer or place them as apples, pears, or tomatoes, as this releases ethylene gas, which can damage the vegetables.

6. Insufficient Moisture

There is also plenty of water which is very important for developing nutritious, tasty, and good-quality vegetables. Because of their shallow root system, vegetables prefer moist soil.

Quite often, vegetables develop a bitter taste without enough water. By following a regular watering program, you keep the vegetables healthy. As with other vegetable crops, waterlogged soil should be avoided to prevent disease.


When you haven’t had enough rain, ensure you have 2.54 cm of water per week. When you have hot or dry conditions, increase irrigation to 5.08 cm per week.

More Ways To Keep Your Vegetables From Becoming Bitter

When vegetables are stressed, they end up producing less-tasty produce. So if they don’t get sufficient moisture, they cannot grow tasty vegetables until they get the right amount of water.

This also means that when vegetables only have a shallow root system, which is the same as a lack of access to moisture, they could end up producing bitter-tasting produce. Therefore, water is vital for your vegetable to produce the kind you’re hoping for.

To keep your vegetables from becoming bitter, you must provide the right environment for them to get the nutrients it needs.


Provide each plant with the right space for better sunlight exposure and water intake. The soil you’ve planted in must also be rich with nutrients and minerals to aid proper growth. By creating a stress-free environment, your vegetable plants can now have what they need to produce tasty vegetables.

Always remember that better plant health means better produce.

Are Your Garden Vegetables Tastes Bitter?

Although the temperature is the leading cause of vegetable bitterness along with the other possible reasons mentioned above, additional factors such as location, current growing conditions, and even variety can play a significant role in the bitterness of vegetable plants.

Poor care and storage of vegetables can lead to poor quality and bitter taste.

Check that vegetables are diluted and adequately watered during the growing season—store vegetables immediately after harvest in a cool, moist place.

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