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Sun and Shade

Hello everyone, I am a newbie here. I joined because I need some odd advice.

My yard is 6,000 square feet. We have too many trees and can't afford to cut them down. The back portion of my yard is full sun in the winter but shade in the summer. My side yard is the reverse, shade in the winter and sun in the summer.

I use row covers through the winter to grow cold hardy plants but find myself lacking space for the volume I need/want to grow. I have been harvesting kale, cabbage and herbs all winter.

Would it be crazy to till the full sun portions of my yard for winter planting?? Again these areas are shade in the summer and full sun in the winter.

Thanks from North Carolina!

Senior Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2016 10:12 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Sun and Shade

It's going to depend on how intense the sunlight is at your location in the winter. If you live too far north, it won't matter if a spot gets full sun in the winter because light levels are too low to stimulate growth anyway. North Carolina may be far enough south that you'd be able to get some growth, but I'm not sure - either way you'd have to expect much slower growth. I'd discuss with gardeners in your area to determine if you can expect any growth from winter months or not.

Super Green Thumb
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Location: New Orleans

Re: Sun and Shade

If I had limited space I'd not grow cabbage or cauliflower since they are pretty big plants to begin with and are what I call a "one and dones". You say are growing Kale so how about Swiss Chard, leaf lettuces, collards and other salad greens that can be harvested over long periods. I love to grow broccoli which puts out one good sized head and then produces several weeks of side shoots to stretch the harvest.

This year I had some space open so I planted 8 cabbage and 8 cauliflower that turned out to be a nice harvest with the cauliflower heads weighing between 3-4 lbs. each and the cabbages were between 5-6 lbs. each. But the plants were huge, planted 24 inches between them in a row and 36 inches between the rows and they filled that space.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Sun and Shade

"Would it be crazy to till the full sun portions of my yard for winter planting?? Again these areas are shade in the summer and full sun in the winter."

I am going to say: Go for it! Plants need and want sunshine!
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/- Plant a Garden

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Sun and Shade

Six thousand square feet is more than my house and yard combined. I would think about getting a chain saw and start cutting some of the trees you can or at least try to keep the branches from spreading. Even if you keep the trees they eventually will need some topwork done.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:12 am
Location: central Ohio

Re: Sun and Shade

6,000 sq feet is about 60 x 100, just to make the math easy. A bit smaller than my backyard. I sympathize with the tree = shade situation. I've got one huge old tree that I would never consider removing unless it was dead or leaning over my house. It leaves me with a very small area for growing sun loving crops.

I don't trust trees that are closer to the house than they are tall. Too much danger of the tree or large limbs falling on the house. Even if you think you can't afford to remove those types of trees you really should consider having those taken out. Dead and dying trees need to be removed also. The liability alone makes a lot of difference. Any trees that could fall or drop large limbs on a neighbors house should be removed. Those are lawsuits waiting to happen.

What kind of shade do you have? Most tree shade is dappled. You can grow a lot of stuff in dappled or part day shade. Garlic, cucumbers, leafy greens, herbs, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, peas, and even peppers will grow and produce with as few as 6 hours of sun a day. And yes, I have grown all these in partial shade and dappled light conditions. I grew some purple podded pole beans in a spot with 6 hours of sun a day as an experiment. I got a few beans, I think the poor production was more from lack of soil nutrients and water more than sunlight. Oh, rhubarb and horseradish do fine in half day sun.

But you will have more problems with root competition than you will with sunshine. I had a raised bed under a tree in the front yard where I grew herbs and strawberries. I had a lot of problems keeping the plants from wilting in the really dry soil. The raised bed was taken out for a construction project this past summer. It was full of tree roots.

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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Sun and Shade

While the trees are there you can do some shade gardening. Some plants aren't too fussy and will grow in partial shade if you can get at least 4 hours of sun or dappled light coming through the canopy. In Hawaii, I grow strawberries, Asian greens, beets, kale, chard, green onions and strawberries in summer in the shade of my citrus trees. ( I did trim the canopy to let light in.) Orchids are hanging on my plumeria which provides summer cover for them.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 888
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:21 pm
Location: Zone 7A - Philadelphia, PA

Re: Sun and Shade

cut those trees and build some Hugelkultur mounds!

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.
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Re: Sun and Shade

Shade is good us it to your advantage for plants that need shade when the weather is hot. Some plants do very well in 100 degree weather and full sun all day like melons and sweet potatoes. Corn loves full sun all day but no heat over 85 degrees. Tomatoes love full sun in the cool part of the day before 12 noon then shade the rest of the day when it is 100 degrees. I live 34 miles south of Nashville TN and I have too many trees also. I watch the sun to see where sun and shade is in my garden. I plant my tomatoes about April 15 to 25 if I can in a location so they get full sun all day while weather is not getting hot yet, I want my tomatoes in full shade after 12 noon when temperature is 85 degrees or hotter. Many seeds will not germinate until soil warms up to 65 degrees. I check soil with a thermometer when it is 65 degrees I plant corn early, it is a 65 day drop corn it needs to make ears before temperatures above 85 degrees about July. I plant corn so it gets sun all day and corn harvest is in 85 degree heat. Melons, sweet potatoes, squash, okra all love full sun and 100 degree heat. Peppers like full sun all day until it gets hot then they need full shade after 12 noon in my geographical location. When I lived in Illinois it did not get so hot there so the heat of the day was not so critical to tomatoes and other plants. When it gets about 90 degrees my tomatoes always look like they have Blight they get black spots dry up and die but tarps, trees, any kind of shade keeps my tomatoes alive. Shade is good us it to your advantage for plants that need shade when it is hot.

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