Shade Your Garden for Better Vegetables
Peppers and Tomatoes
Part 1 of 3
Peppers and Tomatoes Love a Little Shade
Shade for a garden is a polarizing subject – it seems like we’ve either got too much or too little. Today we’re focusing on gardens that need some shelter – the ones with perpetual sun-scald on tomatoes and peppers or cilantro that bolts almost immediately after sprouting.
Shading a garden often seems overwhelming, especially if you live in the very sunny zones of the US, Canada, Australia, or in other bright parts of the world, but it shouldn’t be complicated or expensive. Today we focus on simple and easy methods for giving your garden some relief – exactly where and when it is needed. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers – both sweet and hot, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, along with herbs like cilantro, all benefit from a little shade, especially in the sunny, hotter afternoons of mid to late spring through late summer or even early fall.
Full sun in the early to late morning gives plants plenty of energy through photosynthesis without excess heat stress, allowing them to grow and produce to their full potential. Providing afternoon shelter relieves a lot of the heat buildup, lowering the amount of moisture lost through leaves and the need for extra water to keep the plant healthy. This allows the plant to spend its energy on growing delicious fruits and vegetables, not in transporting water from the soil just trying to stay alive.
Now that you know why shade is beneficial for a sunny garden, what – exactly – is shade? Let’s look at the different types of shade through commonly used terms.
Deep Shade – there is no direct sunlight at all and only a small amount of reflected light, such as from the wall of a light-colored house, garage, or fences. This would be under the canopy of several large, fully mature trees.
Light Shade – gets only one to two hours of direct sunlight a day, but has quite a bit of reflected light from nearby walls and fences. Most likely underneath large trees, but has either morning or afternoon sun reaching the ground.
Partial Shade – sees direct sunlight for two to six hours per day with dappled shade the rest of the day. This would be from less mature trees, a fewer number of trees close together, or those without an extensive leaf structure.
Full Sun – receives at least six hours of sunlight per day but more likely eight to ten hours. This could be shorter or younger trees, wider spaced plantings, or species with smaller leaves and less shade structure, such as elms as compared to oaks.
An excerpt from “Shading Your Garden for Better Vegetables“, courtesy of Terroir Seeds.