How much can reflected sunlight compensate for lack of direct sun

plantslayer(8)September 28, 2010


It looks like I might be moving into an apartment with a 1st floor balcony on the east side of my building. The street outside the balcony has lots of tall trees as well, so there's only direct sunlight for a short time each day, and lots of partial shade for most of the day. I was wondering whether it is possible to grow heat and sun-loving vegetable crops on this balcony if I hang up lots of reflective material around it- in particular, I was thinking of shiny mylar film which is extremely reflective, like a mirror basically. Can having reflective film right next to a container growing tomatoes or peppers allow said plant to grow in a shady place?

Yes, I know it is more reasonable to grow things that fit my climate + conditions, but these are the plants I love the most, so if it were possible to grow these, then that is what I would chose to grow.

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I wish I had better advice, but honestly I'd try to move to a south/west facing area instead. Due to condo renos I had to keep my plants inside the glass for 8 weeks and they didn't like not having the direct light, I think they would do terribly with reflective light (something about the light spectrum and the different things each kind of light provides).

If it's a matter of enjoying your plants, find a different home so you aren't miserable come summer. Otherwise, stick with shade-loving plants. Sorry. :(

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 5:04AM
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Hmm, a vegetable garden on a balcony facing east. The east exposure should not be any barrier to good growing...the morning sun that is at least 4 - 6 hours directly can grow most plants that can take full or partial sun.
Have you cleared such garden with the owners and your neighbors who might object to seeing such use on a ground floor. We all love plants, and color, but sometimes a vegetable garden is not considered something to show off.

Reflective material may take the place of sunlight in the growing season, but it can also burn if hit directly by hot sunlight. This too can happen in winter when combined with wind. Wind is the major cause of drying out of foliage and soil causing possible major increases of water use. Further barriers to such wind should be contemplated.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 11:54AM
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