Friday, July 23, 2010

Shady Characters

     The two trees define my backyard and back garden.  The Pin Oak in the back overhangs the garden, making a very productive area for the everbearing raspberries growing in its shadow.  The garden is in the shadow of the oak till late in the day, when the sun shines merrily for a couple of hours before settling in for the evening.  In the second shot taken from the garden looking back toward the house, one can see the trunk of the White Ash, which early in the morning casts its shadow all the way to the garden.  As the trees grow ever larger, the area for growing sun loving flowers and vegetables shrinks on an annual basis.  While many plants thrive, I was feeling that the tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplants were stunted from the lack of adequate solar power.  Two years ago, I rented out a garden plot at Bellevue State Park to have a garden with unblocked and unbridled sun.  With my new plot I went veggie wild, planting everything at the park, including things like salad greens that actually prefer some shade.  Having had success at the park, I tried to double my return by renting a second plot this year to able to have a rambling squash garden for cantaloupe, melons, cukes and pumpkins.  Alas, the park program is in demand and gardens are now rationed one per renter.  The good news is that I will now have to do a better job with a lot of the ignored or under utilized space in the back garden.
     First, let's define full sun and partial shade:
  • Full Sun: At least 6 full hours of direct sunlight. Many sun lovers enjoy more than 6 hours per day, but need regular water to endure the heat.
  • Partial Sun / Partial Shade: These 2 terms are often used interchangeably to mean 3 - 6 hours of sun each day, preferably in the morning and early afternoon.
So what grows in partial or light shade?  Salad greens such as lettuce, arugula, swiss chard, spinach, endive, and chicories.  The cole crops such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, and radishes.  Plants of the pea and bean families.  Beets would be included, as they are actually the same plant as Swiss Chard, just a different cultivar.  Most of the berries actually like some shade, often growing in the wild as under story plants.  Obviously there are quite a few such shady characters that can be used for a very productive garden.  In list form:

  1. Salad Greens, such as leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress.
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Peas
  5. Beets
  6. Brussels Sprouts
  7. Radishes
  8. Swiss Chard
  9. Leafy Greens, such as collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale
  10. Beans

     Plants demanding more sun are the fruiting plants such as tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, and the entire squash or cucurbit family.  Also needing a lot of sun are root crops such as onions, leeks, shallots and garlic.  In my experience, carrots will have better success with a lot of light.  Potatoes seem to do well enough out back in the dappled light.  Simple enough.  The sunny characters go to the park, and the shady ones go out to the back garden.  Now to start the seed!