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