Vegetable garden sun times?

changingitup(8 PDX)June 3, 2013

I am getting ready to start a vegetable garden in Portland and having a hard time locating it partially because of the house shadow and hours of sun. I have two locations I am considering, one may get about an hour more of direct light but reduce my large families gathering space. The other spot has an hour less sun and, although the house shadow is not affecting it right now, is in more jeopardy of that becoming a problem later in the summer. I was wondering about how many hours of sun Portland gardeners are getting on their gardens? In particular, fruiting plants like tomatoes which ive read like about 10 hours in order to be productive. Also between what hours are you receiving direct sun? For instance, 9.30-5?

My garden will be on the north side of my house. I read somewhere that since the sun is (almost) to its most northern point that the shadow from the house will increase from The summer solstice through the end of the growing season, can anyone who may have been paying attention to this let me know if the shadow increases by approximately half or more like a quarter of what it is now by September (is that the end of summer gardening?)? Thanks

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Have you considered planting the more sun hungry vegs in containers so that they can get optimal sun without sacrificing a large chunk of real estate? I have my tomatoes in large galvanized washtubs and they do well although container gardening is a bit different than in the ground. There are loads of beautiful containers out there or you could use a large plastic tote and disguise it behind low plants or some strips bamboo blind? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 12:45PM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

Do you move your containers around to catch the sun?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 1:32PM
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No, I don't move them around but I guess you could. I just thought you might be able to put containers of the plants that need as much sun as possible in your family gathering space and they wouldn't take up as much room as an inground space. You could still have an in-ground garden in the less sunny area for things that don't need quite as much sun to survive. Or do you possibly have room for containers in a narrow sunny area like along your driveway etc. where they would also benefit from radiated heat?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:24PM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

Oh, ya- good idea! The family area doesn't get the 10 hours of sunlight that was suggested, but it is closer than the other side, plus it is up against a brick wall which will give extra heat- can the added heat help make up for less sun?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 7:57PM
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I don't think anything makes up for lack of sunlight but maybe someone with more info will speak up.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:01PM
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Hasn't 6 or more hours of sun always been considered a full sun exposure for purposes of ornamental planting?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:03PM
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Vegetable plants being exposed to the light of day is more important than the hours of direct sunshine, so cloudy, mild days are nearly as effective for vegetable crops, and tomatoes in particular benefit from warmer cloudy nights, so don't worry about precise hours of sunshine.

Complete shade is another matter; vegetables will do better with at least morning to mid-day or mid-day to evening sun (either case)(half-day).

In Portland, afternoon sun is more reliable than the morning variety.

You under-estimate the shade difference from sun angles; in Portland it hits a maximum mid-day angle of 68 degrees on 21 June and backs down to 45 degrees on 21 September. There is no significant difference in sun angle between now and the 4th of July.

Shadows cast on 21 September are 2.5 times as long as 21 June shadows. It can get very shady by summer's end.

This post was edited by larry_gene on Tue, Jun 4, 13 at 0:03

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 11:50PM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

I sure did underestimate the shadow! Thanks for clearing that up, very useful information in locating this garden. 2.5x my house shadow makes containers in the family area, with at least a half day of evening sun, the best for the full sun vegetables. Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 1:33AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

When the say FULL SUN, it does not mean PNW's 15 hours of sun. 5 hours will do for most, provided after those ours it is not heavily shaded. Filtered light through trees also can help. But 6+ hours of direct sun is fine. Unless you are growing watermelons and giant pumpkins.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 2:11AM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

All of your info and suggestions helped me come up with a better plan and I finally have vegetables planted. Originally I had built raised beds to fill the family area with the thought that I wanted the garden all in one place, for some reason I hadn't even considered spreading it between the two. The result of your help was that i located three of the boxes in the family area in a way that still left sitting space. It ends up that as I studied my three day span of hourly pictures in preparing this I hadn't taken into account the height of the boxes raising the veggies and this morning the tomatoes, peppers and corn are basking in 8 am sun light which should go on until 6. One of the boxes should be shaded until 11ish but still at least the 6 hours suggested. In the area where the house shadow will increase and a tree dapples the morning sun I plan to start at the farthest point with a couple espalierd fruit trees, blueberries in front of those, strawberries and other perennials in front of those, and just slowly move towards the house over time and see how it goes. Thanks!
As a side note, I ended up having one extra box which I flipped up on its long side to move out of the way and realized it would make a great rustic grilling buffet (boxes are out of old fence boards and after trimming off worn areas measure 5'8.5x2'10.25"x16.5) so after adding boards to the bottom and a couple supports I am loving this addition to the yard. :D

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:19PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

It seems as though you have decided on a great solution. I think that veggie plants are quite attractive, and putting them close to the family section should mean that they get attention for weeding -- and also for swiping cherry tomatoes and fresh peas straight from the vine. Eating veggies this way makes veggie lovers of even the smallest of child. Now, we'd like to see some pictures please.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:32PM
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It sounds WONDERFUL! Isn't it great to have ideas from so many folks? This forum has really helped me to learn so much.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:50PM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

I guess you could say, It takes a forum ;) I've often sought and received great advise on gw and am grateful.

My project is far from nice at the moment. Really a yard in flux. But I am going to post a couple of pictures and ask for a bit more help;)

The highlight is, regardless of the mess, there are these little oasis's of vegetables preparing to grow and you are right, they are so much better right out of the garden. Now your plan of casual weeders has me intrigued - will they, won't they? I guess time will tell.

This first picture is where we mostly eat and gather outside, adjacent to it, but not in this photo, is the new space and together they make the largest span of fenced yard. You can see the buffet I made out of the extra box in the bottom of the photo. I am thinking herbs in that little garden across from the buffet, which was my only planting area before this.

This picture is the other side of the yard where the house shadow will eventually shade. The dirt area was out of control arborvitaes until this past weekend. I am researching espaliered grafted fruit trees for the fence, but getting conflicting opinions of them. The grass is usually a bit nicer, but I scalped it in preparation for the garden which isn't going there...yet.

Here is the new space. See my gardens? Kind of hidden at the moment. Everything to the left of the buffet back to the brick wall was on the outside of the fence before Mother's Day;) I need to decide what I am putting on the ground in that area. There isn't much space to cover, the grill is on brick. If you look below the hammock there is a swept section that shows where a cement pad starts and continues back to the neighbors brick garage. I am going to move the black table and chairs onto the cement pad because it is a larger area than where it is now. There is rock (swept back for now) between the hammock and dining table which sits on brick. Lots of materials! We thought grass, then we thought rock and most recently mulch. Today I'm feeling grass again, maybe to tie it into the other side? Is there something else I should be considering? Also, the hammock will not always be there, it is mostly a promise for the end of a work day;) plus its pulling the fence post a little too much :(

As you can see we have a lot of work ahead of us, but a substantial amount behind us too!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 7:58PM
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Those all look like good sites for niche gardening, I don't see any 3-story buildings or huge, overhanging trees around.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 1:16AM
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(gardenWeb server-doubled posting)

This post was edited by larry_gene on Thu, Jun 13, 13 at 0:08

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 1:17AM
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changingitup(8 PDX)

Niche gardening, exactly what it is! Thanks again for the help. I am very pleased with the outcome. Of course, the real treat will be the harvest- yum. Here are some more complete pictures.

I planted fruit trees that are either being or are espaliered on the fence. Blueberries in front of them and strawberries and asparagus in the beds keeping as far from the shadow as I could.

Veggies are in, i am actually wondering if that location is too hot for the tomatoes, they seem a bit scortched. Chose 1/4 minus with a cover of 1/2" for the ground, so far so good.

herbs in the sunny side of this bed with an attempt at lettuce, arugula, chard and cilantro in the less sunny house shadowed side.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 4:09PM
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During harvest and pruning, there will be a fair amount of tramping around in the espalier and blueberry area, so I would recommend placing some round stepping-pavers in the area to keep the root zones from compacting, or you can just use a chunk of plywood and have it as a mobile stepper. Either method keeps repeated footfalls from compacting the soil.

Depending on how the tomatoes were started, the original pre-transplant growth may be sun-tender, but new growth should remain green and the plant will grow out of the scorching phase. Otherwise, use row cover or shade cloth.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2013 at 11:06PM
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