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Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

Posted by dilbertjcg 9a (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 18:58

I took pictures of the entire (crappy for right now) back yard. Want to do some light landscaping and turn portions of the backyard into a veggie garden with some raised beds. The pix are attached. I'm in zone 9a and have 3 questions.

1. Is this enough light for a veggie garden or should I just do some landscaping sans veggie garden?

2. I want to eventually grow enough for all my year round veggies. I'm single with a son on the weekends. Is this doable back here?

3. I know I want to do crop rotation, as organic as possible, and a full range of veggies. Problem is there is so much info out there and so many ways to do things I feel overwhelmed with what to do. If you could choose one source of well organized info what would it be to get started?

I unfortunately don't have the option to trim back the trees.

Oh, and thanks in advance!

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Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

dilbertjcg I'm no expert but I don't think there is any part of your yard with enough direct sun to have a successful vegetable garden. On the bright side its a beautiful yard with amazingly good shade coverage. Where I live a great many none vegetable gardeners would love, love, love to have a backyard like that to enjoy their weekends in.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

There does not seem to be enough sun. Sun = no shade.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.USA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 28, 12 at 23:29

You can plant somethings, but for tomatoes & peppers you will need 6-8 hours sun.
You need to be careful about removing trees & limb until you are sure where you want shade & sun.
You will not replace the trees for many years.
Get a compass & gauge the suns travel though your yard.
I have Mourning sun & evening shade(about 4pm til 7-8pm in hot Summer & Fall).
The soil & Organic garden, vegetable forums on this site are the best anywhere on the net.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

You should experiment at plant a few things to see. Tomatoes and Peppers might not ripen but if you like greens they would be more successful.

Can't tell if the perimeter is a chain link fence but if it is you can grow beans up it or a perennial fruit vine.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 29, 12 at 10:43

I have to preface saying that is not clear what the situation will be in summer. Are the trees without leaves right now?

There is not enough sun for some of the most popular veggies. There is enough sun for all manners of greens (arugula, chard, lettuce, some of the tropical greens,collard, kale, mustard greens), for carrots, beets, radish and turnips, for celery and cardoon. You can have a lot of cilantro and then coriander. You can experiment with potato, sweet potato, zucchini, beans, peas and fava, corn, onions and garlic, and with some of the northern tomato varieties such as Opalka or Stupice or any russian heirloom. It will take longer to produce a crop, and the tomatoes will not be quite as good or as abundant as full sun toms, but in Zone 9 you should still get two crops a year, if you are willing to eat a lot of greens.

I grow incredible collard and mustard greens and good cardoon in beds shadier than that, and in a colder locale. Also consider using the front yard, if it is sunnier, for things such as herbs. There are a lot of good looking vegetables which will pass for ornamental plants.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

I'd say probably not, not with what you are showing us. Definitely not for sun lovers like tomatoes and squash and beans. Even broccoli and kale, in the winter, need sunshine.

But it is winter. The sun is low in the sky and casts long shadows. I have a whole section of my yard that gets very little sun in the winter, but is in blaring sun 12 hours a day in the summer. So you might want to also see what the sun is like in a few months.

Someone mentioned cutting down trees, but at least one of those looks like an oak which will be protected and you won't be able to cut it down.

It says you are in Zone 9a... but it's not clear where you are. If you really want to grow food, there might be a local community garden in your community.

Another option is your front yard, if it has better sun.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

If I could choose just one information source for a beginning veggie gardener, it would be Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening." It covers all aspects of vegetable growing and will keep you busy for at least three years!

Yes, your back yard looks quite shaded, but the sun path in the winter is quite different from the sun path in summer. Are there spots in the yard that you can stand and look straight up with no trees or branches nearby? If so, then you might be able to sneak in a couple tomato plants.

It is also possible to "limb up" and trim trees to let through more light, rather than remove them completely. A little trimming can greatly change the available sunlight.

In any case, your garden should be able to support greens such as spinach, lettuce, arugula, turnip greens and the like. I've had these all (and small tomato plants) thrive on the north side of our house, in the fairly shady zone between our house and the enormous old oak.

What you *really* need is a device called the "solar site selector." You stand in a spot in the yard and peer through it, and it shows you where the sun is at different times of the day and seasons of the year. If there's branches at those angles, you can gauge how much sun you'll get. Trouble is, the people who made them years ago stopped making them, and I can't track one down. If I can get my hands on one I'm going to try to duplicate it--I think it is an invaluable tool.

Here is a link that might be useful: Solar site selector

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

I tried growing veggies in two patches with shade like that last summer. It didn't work. The only thing I got to grow there was beans, and they didn't have anywhere near the production of some beans I planted later in a sunnier spot. Other vegetables like cukes and squash just basically didn't do anything. :(

But as others said, maybe it will be different in summer. The shade in my yard is very different in summer and winter. There are some useable spots in summer that look much too shady in winter with the sun at a lower angle.

My suggestion: Plant vegetables in containers this year. That way you can move them around as you discover the sunnier spots, and next year you'll know where (hopefully) you can plant in the ground. With a good mix (not potting soil), I bet you can get quite a bit to grow.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

Obviously if you are zone 9a the difference in light seasonally will be minimal in regard to shading, but will change in regard to altitude (~42 degrees in January vs ~ 73 degrees in August, this in Pensacola FLA) . You will be able to grow some crops, but it is unlikely that you will become vegetally self-sufficient without a severely restricted diet (no fruiting crops, basically). That being said, there is no reason not to construct some raised beds and starting seeding them. Almost any greens would be likely to work, some root crops, and possibly brassicas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shade veggie info

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

The overstory trees are likely a combination of Quercus virginiana, Quercus laurifolia, and Quercus nigra...all of them mostly evergreen in that part of the country. The tree that appears to be the shade producer for much of the day is the nice Q. virginiana in the back ground of all of the images.

RE: Is this enough sun for a Veggie Garden?

I have a similar yard, but not as shady as yours, but a good indication is to look where the grass/weeds grow the most.

In the summer there are certain areas that I have to mow or weed-eat, that is where I set up containers and small beds.
I also trimmed some branches, to get some extra sun.
This will require you to stand in the yard and predict the future path of the sun. I wouldn't recommend removing those beautiful trees, but a few limbs could help a lot. Just trace the path of the sun from east to west and imagine that line moving north until it is almost over-head.

It can't hurt to try, but I wouldn't expect to feed a family.

Good luck!

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