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How much light do veggies really need?

 
pollinator
Posts: 676
Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Hello all. Because I’ve had more time than usual lately I’ve given more thought to where I’ve planted my veggies. I’ve got seed packs of squash and peppers that say the plants needs 8-12 hours of sun per day! Really? My volunteer plants do fine wherever they pop up!
Even though I live in the forest I have about 1/3 acre that’s cleared for regular annual vegetables. Surrounding those gardens are tall trees and nothing gets more than six hours.
So I’m curious. What’s up with these recommendations?
 
master steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I think veggies (greens, onions, root crops) need less sun than annual fruits (peppers, squash, tomatoes).  I think the general recommendation is 6-8 hours of sun for a garden.  The more the better when it comes to the fruit bearing annuals though.
 
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I feel it depends on what the vegetable is.  Some leafy vegetable like lettuce might not need that much sun and will do fine with 6 hours of sun.  Same with root crops such as turnips.

I can't speak from experience as my problem is not enough shade.
 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Thanks guys. What I’m trying to ask is do squash really need that much light? An old friend used to grow hot peppers in extremely dappled shade. I’m not sure he got any direct light. I’ve grown tomatoes in about four hours of direct sun with no problems. I’m interested in how much light I can get a decent harvest of squash, peppers, tomatoes and such. What are your experience with them?
I downloaded an app called Lumos. Although I love it it’s got me overthinking the process! 😂
 
steward
Posts: 5145
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Squash have tendrils, and vines, so that they can outgrow the shade, and catch every bit of possible light.

 
Scott Stiller
pollinator
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Location: North Carolina zone 7
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Ah Joseph, my old squash loving friend! Good to hear from you.
 
pollinator
Posts: 353
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Squash have tendrils, and vines, so that they can outgrow the shade, and catch every bit of possible light.



Glass to read this. I've got dappled shifting sun all over the place and no place that gets consistent 6-8 hours.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1108
Location: Denmark 57N
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Surely it's also going to depend how strong your sun is, The sun where I am at 57N is a lot weaker than for most of you, so where a vegetable for me may require 10 hours of light a day further south it might need a lot less. Which also accounts for the lack of layers in our forests. (there are generally just 2 the canopy and then either bushes or groundcover, not both)
 
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I know people who have gardens with afternoon shade, as long as the plants get six to eight hours of sun, you will be okay.
I know one gardener who planted tomatoes in full dapped shade to see if they would last longer in the hot 100F heat of S.C.
It worked really well. When I ask how, he reminded me that tomatoes came from South American Jungle & hybridired in the EU.
 
Posts: 43
Location: Piedmont, NC
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Hi Scott, from what latitude did you get those seeds? At my latitude in central NC the sun is almost at 80• overhead at midsummer, while in Oregon the sun is ten degrees lower. That ten degrees means the light passes through more atmosphere, loosing energy, and is more diffuse when "flat" on the ground (a south slope could help adjust for that factor). While i can't imagine it doubling the amount of sunlight needed, it is a significant impact.

And then there's the difference between production quantities for traditional market growers vs home growers who are optimizing different factors. I wouldn't trade my passive air conditioning for more squash given i have other sources for calories.

My North Carolina squash has grown (when not defeated by downy mildew) at the eastern edge of my clearing, with one tall tulip poplar to the south west. The garden gets direct sun on the western edge after ten am and by noonish is in full sun. The shade from the tulip poplar passes over the garden in the afternoon. I've not invested in amendments other then kitchen leavings trench composted or through a worm bin. I'm not sure if the merely adequate yields are due to low fertility (soil test notes i am shy phosphorus) or the shade, but i've had good tomato and happy pre-mildew squash production.

I've moved my squash this year to a drier and sunnier-earlier spot because of the mildew factor.

cheers!
 
pollinator
Posts: 867
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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I think more sun equals sweeter 'fruits', i.e., tomatoes.... maybe squash, too?  So maybe more shade will work, but less sweet results.. ?
 
Posts: 52
Location: Central Oregon Coast Range, valley side
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A report from the central Oregon coast range;  

Here in the sunny spots I currently get about 7 hours of full sunlight on the summer solstice, which dwindles to about 3 by mid September.  And maybe 40 minutes come mid December if there is any blue sky.

Tomatoes and squash plants which have been selected for success in lower light conditions will do pretty well here.   But if you take a tomato seed that has been growing in 8+ hours of full sun for most of the growing season its past dozen generations, I suspect it will struggle in this light.

What I have totally failed with for years here is peppers and eggplant.  OH GEE, maybe don't buy seeds from Kitazawa (Oakland CA sunshine.)  On the other hand, many of their other plants do great here and are staple vegetables.  Next, Territorial Seed which is located about 25 miles away, was a similar bust with the peppers and eggplant seed.  I suspect every pepper and eggplant seed I have tried thus far needs more late summer and early fall sun to be vigorous.  So I pretty much gave up on cultivating them, though I'm still on the lookout for someone out here with a plant that is producing vigorously under similar conditions.
 
nancy sutton
pollinator
Posts: 867
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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John, here's a website with 60-70 day eggplant varieties.  Also, I wonder if they were in pots on wheels, if they could 'follow' (with your help ;) the sunshine when it moved away from the brightest area, during the course of the day.    Hmmm....
https://harvesttotable.com/short-mid-and-long-season-eggplant-varieties-2/
 
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