4 hours of sun... is that enough for a vegetable garden?

gardening_dizzleNovember 26, 2009

I would like to attempt my first square foot garden next season. I have a number of large trees on my property, which keeps a good part of it shaded. The location of the garden gets diffused sun all morning but gets 4 hours of full midday sun: 11am-3pm. Will this be enough for a square foot garden?

I would like to grow tomatoes, peppers, basil and other herbs, garlic, onions, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, eggplant, melons, pumpkins, squash, and zucchini.

I've heard that you can put aluminum foil down to get more sunlight and keep pests away.

Any advice would be appreciated!!!!

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WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)

that amount of sun should be fine for your herbs and leafy greens but I think you'll have problems getting much fruit on the tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. They all need 6 hours or more of direct sun. Still, try it and see what happens! Choose cherry tomatoes instead of the big beefeater tomatoes; they seem to require less sun.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2009 at 11:52AM
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I tried a vegee garden in the conditions you're describing and had decent luck with the following:
- mint
- lettuces
- radishes
- rosemary
- sage
- blueberries
- thyme after established
- oregano after established

I had very little luck with fruiting plants like tomatoes and squash. Tomatoes, peppers, and certain squash can be grown in containers. Perhaps you have a tiny spot on a deck that gets more sun during the day?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 1:55PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Before you listen to anyone, I don't think we know enough to give you adequate answers.

Riddle me this - You get 4 hours of direct sunlight...

- Is it morning sunlight, noon sunlight, or afternoon sunlight?

- Is it direct sunlight or filtered sunlight?

- Do you get any other sunlight (indirect, mixed shade, etc?)

- Is your garden anywhere near a structure? For example, a southern wall of a house, anything that will store/reflect light and/or heat?

Once you answer these questions, I think folks can adequately answer whether it's enough. Until this information is known, I would take what anyone else has answered above with a HUGE grain of salt.

Not trying to be snarky, no offense intended to the previous posters. I just want to make sure dizzle is getting solid info based on specific situation.

If you're getting four hours of noon/afternoon direct sunlight, your garden is on a south wall, I think you will be fine. If you get four hours of noon/after sunlight and some dappled sun through the morning or evening, I think you'll be fine. Morning light is insignificant, so if your four hours light are before 11am, I'd say - not enough for fruiting veggies.

FWIW, in indirect sun or shade, I've grown peppers, cukes, herbs, salad greens and leafy veggies of all sorts. The correct answer to your question here is, really: GIVE IT A SHOT.

I've had so many people tell me, "hey, you can't grow that in your conditions". 9 times out of 10, they were totally full of poop. You can grow almost anything in any condition, it just may not flower or fruit or color as well as it would in "optimal" conditions. You also may need to watch out for specific diseases or conditions (mildew from too much shade, wilting from too much heat).

Always take everything with a grain of salt. And never be afraid to give anything a shot. Through experimentation, we learn a TON, and we're in a great zone (z7/z8) with a good solid climate and long growing season, without being too humid and having too sandy soil.

I hope this helps.

Stay skeptical and keep gardening!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2009 at 11:15PM
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lrvjim(7 to 8)

Given the conditions described in your OP of bright shade in the AM and full direct sun from 11-3 you will be fine. As others have said, anything that fruits will probably have reduced yields and be slow to ripen, but even that is relative to your expectations. Go for it and have fun.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 8:15AM
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Per NC State Ag Dept..."The garden should receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Eight to 10 hours each day is ideal. Vegetables should therefore be planted away from the shade of buildings, trees, and shrubs. Some leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, spinach, and lettuce tolerate shadier conditions than other vegetables, but if your garden does not receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, you will not be successful growing vegetables."

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 10:43PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Then again, NC isn't necessarily the same USDA zone as ours, so I wouldn't lend much value to their opinion. Same way my parents need to start growing their tomatoes in October down in the Sarasota area (z10?), and need to grow in full shade on the north side of their shed. I guess, by NC's State Agriculture Department, they aren't successful either? Funny, they net pounds and pounds of tomatoes every year and don't wind up with diseased plants.

Likewise, I hate to tell the NC State Ag Dept, but I am successfully growing tons of heirloom peppers, brocolli, sunberries and leeks in full shade on my 2nd story deck in metro Atlanta.

I think these are just more reasons not to listen to the "professionals" on everything. Anything that doesn't suit their idea of "ideal" growing condition, means "you won't be successful". They don't tell you the level of success you may possibly have, they just tell you "won't be successful", whatever that means. No "might not be 'as' successful", just "you won't be successful".

Always beware of absolute statements when reading advice about anything. Life is not absolute. Gardening is not absolute.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 1:01PM
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Thanks for your advice everyone! I will definitely go for it and see what happens. I'll be using raised beds and will experiment with different locations around my property. Everything I grew last year, my first year as a gardener, was in pots because we bought a home and closed July 10th... didn't want to give everything up at the high point of the growing season. At the old house, they received full sun (8-10 hours). When we moved, the plants all still produced. Hopefully they'll still grow as well this summer with less sun.

Tune in this summer!!!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 8:42PM
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Hey - I have raised beds that get 4 hours of FULL sun in the summer. Before that, there is bright, filtered light. In the afternoon, some of the sun is strong -- then filtered on the afternoon end too.

Everything did great. Eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, basil, cucumbers.

If it weren't for the squirrels and squashbugs, we would have been eating LOTS of veggies!

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 5:43PM
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