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Nowhere in yard gets 6+ hours of sunlight, worried about getting apple/pear fruit

 
Bobby Eshleman
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Nowhere in my yard get's 6+ hours of full sunlight since it is surrounded by full grown trees. However, 3-4 hours of full sun seems to be the average overall, and many many hours more of dappled sunlight through the surrounding trees. Some of these surrounding trees have relatively open crowns. How much of a problem will I have getting fruit out of apples and pears?
 
Eric Toensmeier
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They probably won't do too well. Might try a few but emphasize currants, jostas, gooseberries, pawpaw, medlar, quince, hazel, hawthorn, black raspberry and other shade -tolerant fruits as the backbone of your design.
 
Bobby Eshleman
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Thanks for clearing that up Eric!
 
Charles Kelm
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Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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I'm in the same boat here on the coast in Washington state. I'm on 5.5 wooded acres. I'm making a clearing for my food forest, but being so far north, with the sun so low in the sky, you have to make a pretty big clearing in order for the sun to reach the fruit trees for any good period of time. Thanks Eric for the tips - I have all the ones you mentioned except for pawpaw, medlar and quince. I'll move them up to the top of my "acquire" list.
 
Eric Toensmeier
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Also can clear trees and turn into lumber, mushrooms etc.
 
Maddie Bern
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Location: Sierra Nevada foothills, zone 7
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Eric, I have the same problem, with 3-4 hours of sun and lots of dappled sun. I am also gardening under deciduous oaks, which don't like summer water. I would love to start a food forest, but am not sure if I can with the oaks. There is a small clearing where my veggie garden is, though it also suffers from getting less then 6 hours of sun. Are there any perennials I can plant under the oaks, or on the edge of, or in, the clearing? Which perennial vegetables might do well in my moderately shady garden? I am in the Sierra Foothills of northern CA, zone 7.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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could you find a sunnier spot on the southern or eastern edges or even maybe western edges of the woodsy areas?? could you remove some branches or possibly some unnecessary trees to let in some sun to give your more beneficial trees a place to grow, maybe removing some firewood type trees if you burn wood?

if you are a big fruit eating family, I would try to find some way to bring in fruit trees esp if the forest you have isn't producing anything useful for you, some of your trees may actually be nurse trees, that will support growing fruit trees..i grew fruit trees in among alders and aspens, and then when they grew up a ways I removed the aspen and alders and then the sun got to the young fruit trees and they grew well..this is known as scaffold trees.
 
Eric Toensmeier
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There's nothing wrong with cutting down trees to got more sunlight in most cases.

You can check out recommendations for different zones at www.perennialvegetables.org.

Many PVs love partial shade, for you those would include sea kale, Turkish rocket, yampah, camass, and garlic chives.

I find pruning trees high up on the trunk lets in quite a bit of light and enables sun-loving stuff to be grown more productively.
 
Sara Harding
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Charles Kelm wrote:I'm in the same boat here on the coast in Washington state. I'm on 5.5 wooded acres. I'm making a clearing for my food forest, but being so far north, with the sun so low in the sky, you have to make a pretty big clearing in order for the sun to reach the fruit trees for any good period of time. Thanks Eric for the tips - I have all the ones you mentioned except for pawpaw, medlar and quince. I'll move them up to the top of my "acquire" list.


One idea would be to do espalier fruit against a white, south or west facing wall. White reflects more radiant energy than any other surface- even shiny metal. It scatters the sun's energy. I noticed sepp holzer's tender Alkmene's are grown on a white, west wall from the picture in his permaculture book. I think Mollison suggested sun traps with shiny-leaved shrubs, too. White painted barrels filled with water might work for both light reflection and thermal mass. Or build a rock wall and paint it white. Or even walking paths and perimeter using light colored gravel.

From Mollison's Introduction to Permaculture

In Germany, experiments with tomatoes and peaches against both black and white walls showed more rapid plant growth against the black wall; yield, however, due to better ripening, was higher against a white wall.
 
Brent Rogers
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Another thing I have seen Sepp do in his videos is to use ponds with big boulders in them against hillsides to capture and reflect sunlight and trap heat. This seemed to work very well for him growing citrus high in the Alps and other things that most people could never be able to grow at his altitude. I think it is important not to fight nature to hard though. If you are in a shady area take cuts from your apple tree and graft them on to another location that is sunnier, then work with what you have going for you which is shade. There are edible ferns that you could grow and you have ideal mushroom growing condition.
 
Charles Kelm
Posts: 170
Location: Western Washington (Zone 7B - temperate maritime)
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Thanks Sara - we have a big deck that encircles the house, so the wall won't work out, but I may just build a wall out in my food forest - maybe using urbanite. Thanks for the tips! I have Sepp's book and just adored it. I have a good sized pond that I may start to work with it's reflective properties. So far I have a single apple tree there which I planted this year.
 
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