• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

growing in shade

 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm gardening a yard. It's my friend's. I converted it from a lawn that didn't grow grass to a huge straw permaculture experiment.

As it's a yard, the sun is not that constant. In the morning one part gets sun, in the afternoon another, and so on.

I asked my friend, who is an architect, to tell me exactly what sun we are getting, where and when. She has a couple programs that can find it for yu. Gooogle does something I think.

Anyway, I was wondering how much sun is a factor. Right now, as with last year, tomatoes aren't growing. Well, they're growing but they take a long time and last year they never got red. I ate a few green tomatoes. I thought it was the soil, and while the soil has inproved considerably, still no tomatoes.

I'm considering going all-leaf next year, with a few pumpkins which seem to grow well. Legumes grow reasonably well, as do cucumbers. Zucchini not so well, but pumpkins yes.

Some pics.
Winter3.jpg
[Thumbnail for Winter3.jpg]
Spring.jpg
[Thumbnail for Spring.jpg]
 
                            
Posts: 56
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sun is very important. Where do the plants get energy to grow and produce leaves, fruits, roots, etc? The sun. More sun means more energy in the system which means more food. You're going to want at least -- at least! -- 6 hours of sunlight a day to grow most veggies.
 
Steven Baxter
Posts: 254
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Grow plants that like shade
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It depends were you life. In northern latitudes sun is very important as you get closer to the equator you have more sun and you can grow most things in shade.
Everything leafy needs less sun but tomatoes do need sun.
When I look at the pictures the space right at the wall could be great for the tomatoes as the wall might store enough heat to ripen the tomatoes. Another idea would be to put the tomatoes in a pot and put them higher up were they get more sun maybe on the top of the wall.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks.
I think I'll start growing more potatoes and spinach.

Once we get the feedback from the shade study, we'll have a better idea of if there's a magic place to put sun-dependent vegetables.

Ediblecities,
I did put the tomatoes next to the wall. The strange thing is that wall is a little dank, as in kinda moist and mossy. It's also where there's a grape plant which expands the length of the wall. I guess if the grapes ripen (they do) then tomatos should also, right?

Other options include doing some heavy potting of the trees to get some light in. Could also do more things on high trellises, so that they're above the shade. Could roof-garden the garage.

All these options are things I'm trying to avoid, but which could ameliorate the problem.
Thanks again,
Wm

More pics.
Spring3.jpg
[Thumbnail for Spring3.jpg]
Winter.jpg
[Thumbnail for Winter.jpg]
 
Paula Edwards
Posts: 411
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You can prune the trees to get more light in.
There is a huge difference between shade from trees and shade from a house. Shade from trees lets sunlight through, shade from houses not. You might have a patio or a driveway or a balcony to put your tomatoes, they really do well in pots.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yeah, in that second to last pic, you can see I'm hanging pots of grape tomatoes. They'll probably do ok.
Wm
 
William Roan
Posts: 40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi WMthake

About a month ago I came across a website (some where?) and the gardener was showing how a butternut squash had climbed into a tree to grow. The gardener claimed that plants with tendrils are forest plants that had evolved along side of forest trees. Those large leaves are designed to capture any light that makes it through a forests canopy. Trees are nature’s first arbors.
Melons have tendrils, large leaves and their fruits were probably small when they evolved. Humans have grown them for larger fruit size and the vines can no longer support the weight. But in Thailand I saw a neat gardeners trick, the fruits were grown off a fence and the small fruits were slipped into an old nylon stocking and then tied to the fence. The plant grew the way it naturally wants to, the fruits grew inside the sock, light was able to penetrate the stocking so the fruit could mature and sweeten. The nylon mesh acted like a barrier to insect and slug attack.

Another trick shade gardeners can try is painting the structural surfaces with white paint to reflect the light. I would suggest using a paint found in the roofing section of Home Depot, Called “Snow White”. This product is a white rubberized water based paint used for covering old roofs. It will prolong the age of the wooden fences and building walls by repelling water from sprinklers and the paint hasn’t peeled or bubbled on my house.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i have a huge amount of shade on my property and alot of things grow better here in the shade, so you should be able to grow a lot of stuff in the shady areas, but put your tomatoes out on your sunniest edges and stake them so they get more sun.

also you can increase sun around them by reflective surfaces such as white or foil

peppers also need the sun but most everything else will do OK with some shade and some things thrive with some shade..

don't believe everything you read on the packets, experiment

also read up on shade gardening if you have some time
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Depending on what part of the country you are in, big bell peppers in my area do better with a bit of shade.

Also, under the shade of a very large tree I harvested several 29lb watermelons and more butternut squash than we could eat.

Parsley and cilantro are some herbs that I have growing under trees.
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks everyone for the help.
i'm going to try and go both ways.

1) Research heavily shade gardening and make a better selection of plants.
2) Try and do a thorough investigation of where we have sun, for how long, and try and see if we can try to get in more light via potting the trees (something I hate to even think of, but I noticed a tree that if cut back significantly might give us a good 3 hours of sun in the afternoon)

Thanks again for the ideas.
Wm
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How did the shade gardens turn out? What have been your favorites over the last two years?

 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you are in shade get a 3month to maturuty cherry tomato not a 8 month to maturity beefsteak. If you really have heavy shade then veggies that bolt in the summer would do good there (lettuce, spinach, etc)
 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi. I responded to this yesterday but the registration system ate my post. I'll try and remember it.

Trees/Shrubs/Vines
2 Figs - Going well but not prolific.
1 Apricot - Not fruiting, attacked every may by some leaf problem.
1 Grape - I trained it to cover both sides of the garden, so far so good, getting more prolific I think, one is across a wall that gets sun.

Veggies
Lettuce - Prolific
Potatoes - Comes up willingly, doesn't get big potatoes, planning to expand this next year.
Chard - gets big leaves.
Cherry tomato - Can get to fruit if I have good nutrients via compost. Last year was a no-tomato year in general in this area and I had tomatoes via 2 plants that kind of formed a bush.

Herbs
Basil - if the slugs are not out there, it goes well.
Oregano - pitiful, but could be just a wimpy plant
Thyme - going okay

Other
Comfrey - huge and prolific
Oats - going well, I just grow those for fun/decoration
Mint/Lemon Balm - Goes crazy, has to be kept in check. I don't think I every planted lemon balm, it just starte growing, so I put it under the fig tree.
Blueberry - didn't fruit this year, might take that out
Strawberry - have eaten a total of 5 pieces of fruit in 2 years
Raspberry - have eaten a total of 2 pieces of fruit in 2 years
Cypress - Tree died after madman with a chainsaw "pruned" it.

I don't do that much work here, it kind of takes care of itself. I have cut it back 2 times this year so far, plus general transplanting/harvesting. Probably about 2 hours a week average. Some weeks I don't even go there, some weeks I do a morning of work. Next goal is getting more perennial flowers in there, it's kind of a wash of green.

Here are some recent pics.
IMG_0225.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_0225.jpg]
IMG_0228.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_0228.jpg]
IMG_0500.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_0500.jpg]
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for the response, the area is covered in vines right now, mostly ivy (some english some poison). Was looking to replace it with something. May try a mix of lemon balm and some greens.
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 1093
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
67
forest garden urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was responding to http://www.permies.com/t/57509/plants/Heat-tolerant-vegetables#488460 and realized it was wandering off topic, to how and why to garden in the shade. As this seems the closest to what I actually started to talk about, I thought I'd revive this thread.

I had started to explain how most plants can only photosynthesize within a certain range of temperatures. Over 90 degrees (32 for those of you using centigrade) the plant hunkers down and just tries to survive till everything cools off. In very hot climates this can mean hours of difference in the amount of time a plant spends actually growing and developing crops.

There's also the problem in areas with extremely intense sunlight that some plants have an upward limit on how much photosynthesis they can do in a day. Once they've used all the sunlight they can, in the best case scenario the rest of the energy goes to waste. In many plants they develop sun scorch which damages the leaves and fruits. If you have a partial sun bed, careful planning can enable a plant to receive sufficient light while entirely avoiding the issue of sun damage.

 
William James
gardener
Posts: 1012
Location: Northern Italy
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
@Casie
I'm always amazed by how people generally think that full sun is something magical. Even the seed packets repeat this idea.

So, most people clear land and put plants out in the middle of a plowed field in full sun -- it's obvious the plant is suffering. It's usually the opposite of "lush" even if it's able to produce.

Densely planted ecosystems cool the air and distribute the solar rays more equally. The hope is that the density comes from useful plantings.

The real problem is when the shade is coming from something that isn't yielding, like concrete. In the above case, that was a big part of the disaster. I learned a lot and thankfully am no longer doing anything in this space.

If I had to do it again I would go full on shade loving mostly ornamental and not really try to get huge food yield.

William
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 1093
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
67
forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A lot of the long term planning I make for my gardens is where to plant which trees to provide the most useful shade. Eventually there will be large trees with dense canopy over animal housing and dappled or periodic shade over most of the planting areas. I won't know if I've planned properly for at least another ten years.
 
Merry Bolling
Posts: 18
Location: USA, Arkansas, zone 7b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Casie Becker: If you're looking for a starting guide for your own experiments growing in the shade, you might look into what local nurseries do in the summer. Around here, summer shade houses are just as important as winter greenhouses in keeping plants going. The professional operations have already done the trial and error to determine what percentage of available sunlight is actually necessary for different plants in our area, as well as how much light is too much for other plants.
I think I've wandered away from the topic of heat tolerant vegetables for this. If you want to continue this discussion, I'm posting the rest of what I started to say in this thread http://www.permies.com/t/8757/organic/growing-shade#488464  ;

Thanks for the ideas, Casie. Where I am in Arkansas receives a lot of heat & humidity, so both Heat Tolerant Vegetables and Growing in the Shade threads are great topics for generating ideas on where to start experimenting, as well as what is already working for others. For those interested, the other thread link is: http://www.permies.com/t/57509/plants/Heat-tolerant-vegetables.

Balancing the spacing between different types of trees and their different canopy densities / types of light & shade; as well as patches of full sunlight between trees is definately a long-term art form. Add in figuring out what species and cultivars grow well & where and you have a never-ending puzzle. But threads like this one really help novices like me to keep from making too many expensive mistakes. Thanks everyone!!     
 
David Hernick
Posts: 54
Location: Oakland, CA
1
chicken fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There is a new Modern Farmer article on the topic:
http://modernfarmer.com/2016/07/shade-plants/

I have found Manzano/Rocoto pepper (Capsicum pubescens) do best in significant shade and this also shelters them in the winter since they are a long lived perennial pepper.
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
286
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have found Manzano/Rocoto pepper (Capsicum pubescens) do best in significant shade and this also shelters them in the winter since they are a long lived perennial pepper.

Yes.  They are a tropical plant, but only do well there at higher elevations, where the sun isn't so scorching.
And, yes they are perennial in frost free areas.
Below USDA zone 10 they may need some winter protection.

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!