Here You Have It Gardeners, Another Way To Improve On Your Veggie Gardening!
Last Week I Made A Companion Planting Guide For Gardeners And Beginner Gardeners. Now To Address The Light And Shade Aspect. Lets Work With Nature. Most Of Us Have Some Shade And Part-Shade In Our Yard (Or Space) When Thinking Of Growing A Veggie Garden (Big Or Small) And Some Of Us Are A Little Confused How To Work Things Out.
This Post Will Help Bring Some Clarity Into The Situation, So You Have An Idea Where To Grow Your Herbs And Veggies And How To Go About It. The Following Articles Should See You On Your Way To Good Results And Maybe Better Than You Have Had Previously.
How Sun Mapping Can Help Homegrown Veggies Thrive
ABC Everyday By Koren Helbig
In hindsight, figuring out where the sun falls in our backyard would have been handy to do before we started planting any veggies.
Because edible plants need sunlight to grow — the more of it, the better — yet the sun changes position across the seasons, dropping lower in winter and throwing longer shadows across the earth.
My partner and I didn't even think to consider this when we moved into our Adelaide rental four years ago. Now, half our small growing space is plunged into deep shade at least four months each year, limiting the food we can grow there.
I've since learned the art of sun mapping, a process to figure out exactly where the sun falls at your place year round and therefore which spots are best to grow food — be it your backyard, balcony, street verge or even at your neighbour's.
Winter Can Be The Best Time To Start Sun Mapping
Somewhat counterintuitively, winter is the best time to start mapping sunlight, as the shadows are longest, revealing the limit of where you can grow in cooler months.
In permaculture design (where I learnt this technique), sunlight is one of many 'sectors' you map when planning — figuring out energies passing through your garden and how they can best be harnessed to provide a yield.
The ideal spot for a veggie patch gets as much full sun as possible, all year round. You can always add shade later if needed. You can't add more sun.
But solar access can be tricky in urban areas, where tall buildings or high fences block much-needed light. Funnily enough, it's often where people plonk lawn — right in the centre of a garden — that would be the best spot to grow stuff.
The Simplest Way To Make A Sun Map: Observation
So, step one is to observe what's going on at your place over the four seasons.
You might take photos from the same place in winter and summer — at morning, noon and afternoon each time — for a visual on where the sun falls. Or roughly sketch out your garden and draw shade patterns over the top. Or even just stand in the space, mentally clocking: 'Ah yes, the shade reaches to this path or that tree.'
I printed a Google Earth map of our backyard, traced a copy onto fresh paper and sketched in the winter shade line.
While for now we can't move our patch, the map allowed me to make more suitable planting decisions this winter.
The sun-hungry broccoli and caulis went in the bit that's always sunny, while leafy greens edged towards areas that gradually get shadier. And in the deep shade, untouched by sun until late spring, I've left the beds fallow for now.
Take A Shortcut By Using Apps And Other Tech Options
Perhaps you don't have the luxury of watching your space over a full year? Nifty tools and tech can help map your sun patterns right away — with a bit of maths.
Sun position apps use your phone's GPS and compass to find the solar angle at your location, at any time of the year. Look specifically for an app capable of determining the sun angle. Similar online tools exist if you're using a computer.
If you're keen to quickly work out where the sun and shade falls, then a bit of maths is involved. Trigonometry to be exact. Let me break it down:
Say you look up the sun angle (a) at mid-winter. Next, measure or estimate the height (H) in metres of an obstacle around your garden — your house, the back fence or that giant tree. With these two figures (angle and height), you can calculate the length of shadows using a trigonometry formula and a calculator, where length = H / tan (a). Or just use this online calculator.
Complete this calculation for both mid-winter and mid-summer, and you'll understand the moving shadow patterns in your growing space.
The result can be quite surprising. At our place, we discovered a summer fence line shadow of half a metre grows to a whopping to 4.6m in winter. Which explains why nothing grows!
Options For Growing Food In Unavoidably Shady Spaces
In urban areas or apartments with small balconies, you might have just one spot for growing. If it's largely in shade, you'll struggle to grow healthy, high-yielding food plants.
Before You Give Up Completely, Map The Sun.
Plenty of leafy greens will cope with only six hours of sunlight a day, so you might have enough light to grow lettuce, kale, spinach and herbs. Or perhaps it's better to only grow food in the warmer months, when the sun's higher position brings more sunlight into your growing area.
If none of this is an option, get creative. Maybe the owner of that vacant block down the road will be cool with you commandeering a corner for growing. Could your street verge have good solar access?
Or join your local community garden. You'll have much more success growing food in a plot that has sufficient solar access — and as a bonus, you might make friends with a talented gardener who's happy to share their tricks.
Koren Helbig is a storyteller who practises permaculture and grows organicfood in the backyard of her small urban Kaurna Land (Adelaide) home. Source HERE
Which Direction Should My Plant Rows Run in My Vegetable Garden?
By Jasey Kelly 2018
Whether you grow your vegetable garden for summertime salads or for a year's worth of preserved veggies, you put a lot on your plate for the growing season, including detailed planning. Planning a veggie garden layout typically involves choosing which crops to use and how much of each crop to plant. A well-thought-out design with rows oriented properly to compass directions can help you get the most out of your garden plot.
The most ideal row orientation is north and south as opposed to east and west. When rows of plants point north and south, every row receives the same sunlight exposure during the day. An east-west orientation for the rows, however, can help your crops collect heat -- an important factor when you plant early or a cold snap occurs. Wind-pollinated crops often do best in a row oriented east and west because the prevailing wind from the west moves pollen from plants on the row's west side to plants on the row's east side.
General Garden Location
The location of your garden is important in ensuring that your crops receive enough sunlight and are protected from strong winds. Planting on the south side of a tall structure, such as a large tree or building, will result in a shaded garden that isn't suitable for most common veggie crops. On the other hand, strong winds can devastate tall crops such as sweetcorn, and so a windbreak or protected area may be required for those plants. Place your garden in an area of your yard that is convenient to you. Near the home is ideal so that watering, weeding and other garden chores can be completed close to your house.
Too Much Sunlight
Lettuce and other cool-season crops do best without the heat of summer sun exposure, which can cause them to bolt or become bitter. If your region is prone to very hot summers and you wish to grow cool-season crops in your summer garden, then consider planting them on the north side of a taller crop, such as sweetcorn. The lettuce will receive morning sunlight and be shaded by the tall corn during the hottest part of the day.
If you can't have north-south rows in your garden, then considering plant height for your vegetables' layout can be helpful. Plant tall crops on the north end of your garden to prevent them from shading shorter crops that require hot, afternoon sun exposure. Crops that are shorter in height than the width of the aisles between rows will receive the same amount of sunlight throughout the day regardless of row orientation.
How Much Sunlight Do Your Vegetables Need?
As the sun rotates, the amount of sunlight your garden receives depends on what direction it faces. Here are the lists of plants that will thrive according to their sunlight requirements.
Full Sun Veggies (Requires 6-8 Hours of Sunlight)
Tomatoes Basil Cucumbers Eggplant Peppers Pumpkins Squash Watermelon Rockmelon Honey Dew Melon Sweetcorn Okra Sweet Potatoes Peas Long Beans Ceylon Malabar Spinach
Partial Shade Veggies (Requires 4-6 Hours of Sunlight)
Asparagus Beans Beetroot Broccoli Cabbage Carrots Cauliflower Celery Chives Cilantro Coriander Garlic Leeks Mint Onions Oregano Parsley Peas Radish Shallots Turnips
Low Light Veggies (Gets 2-4 Hours of Diffused Light)
Arugula Brussels Sprouts Bok Choy Pak Choy Kale Lettuce Mustard Greens Spinach Silerbeet Rainbow Chard
Consequences of Inadequate and Too Much Sunlight
All plants need sunlight to thrive, whether you grow them in your garden or indoors. Some plants need plenty of sunshine while others need a little. But when your plants start to grow tall and thin, it is because they are lacking and looking for more light.
Lack of Sunlight
Usually, plants that are grown under full sun grow fast compared to plants with low requirements of sunlight. Plants that do not meet their sunlight requirements end up being weak and leggy.
My Encouragements Are To Follow What You Can In This Post Or To Ask Someone To Help You Work A Few Things Out If They're Not Quite Clear To You. The Information Contained Above Is Meant To Help Rather Than Hinder. It should Prove Beneficial To Most Of Us, Cutting Down The Number Of Mistakes We May Have Made.
And Remember, Winter Is The Best Time For Sun Mapping - That Is Why I Placed These Articles In Ours Australia Early, A Few Weeks Before Spring Weather Arrives For Best Results (Throughout A Year). This Just Came To My Attention. I Will Have More Posts On This Topic Soon Because It Is So Advantageous.
ARE YOU PREPARING FOR SPRING? MAKE SOME PLANS IN ADVANCE, SO YOU ARE READY, WHATEVER METHODS YOU PLAN TO USE - MAYBE COMPANION PLANTING. HAPPY GARDENING!