Anyone have experience with less than full sun?

prairiemoon2 z6 MAMay 8, 2013

My maximum sun in the garden is six hours. I do fine with cherries, but production on full size tomatoes is low. I realize it is most likely the sunshine factor, but I thought I'd ask anyway, if anyone here has grown tomatoes in less
than full sun successfully? A certain variety that does better than others? Any techniques that improve production? Or should I just stick to cherries?

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My NJ garden was getting only about four hours of sun per day, plus maybe a couple hours of partial shade. My tomatoes averaged only six pounds per plant with beefsteaks running 6 - 8 pounds and pastes generally 4 - 6 pounds.

Production was also affected by the onset of foliage diseases which usually started in early September and tended to hit the pastes first. That said, the late varieties such as many beefsteaks probably would have done better as well if they survived. To compensate for these low yields I just planted more plants.

I just bought a farm in southwestern Virginia (Floyd) where my tomatoes will have full sunshine all day! I can't wait to see what kind of yields I get here!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:28AM
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jadie88(7 MD)

I have the same problem here. I don't mind the lower production much, since we still get more tha enough for our needs. For me, the damp foliage is the big problem. In one of my two small patches of sunshine, the sun doesn't hit the plants until aroun 1:30pm, then it is intense, baking sun (also reflected off a white wall) until sundown. The plants stay damp so long! I keep them pruned and tied to try opening up the circulation as much as I can, which seems to help.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 9:25AM
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I get more production in my part sun garden than my full sun. I think it's because recently it gets so hot so early in the year. This year we actually have a spring so maybe it will be different. I think the key to it doing well is morning sun, then shade starting between 2-4pm depending on time of year.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 10:10AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

For 8 summers I had a vegetable garden along the east wall of my parents' house in the Chicago suburbs. Morning sun only. I had room for 5 tomatoes: one cherry and whatever beefsteaks we could find seedlings for. The tomatoes were grown at the back of the plot, right next to the brick wall.

The limited sun didn't seem to be a problem. Since the weather was quite dry during that period and I'd been taught to prune to one stem, damp foliage wasn't a problem (did have Septoria leaf spot on a plant one year). Squirrels stealing the lower fruit (for the moisture) were the worst problem.

A few years back, there was a poster here named Dave who had a shady Minnesota backyard (neighbors' large trees he couldn't prune). IIRC, he planted in containers which he stuck in the brightest spots he could find, scattered across his backyard. He was much more successful than anyone would have believed.

His tomatoes got less sun than mine had in Illinois, so probably 4-5 hours of direct sun.

When I first moved here, I replaced the Previous Owners' hostas in front of the house with a row of daylilies. They were shaded most of the morning by the house and from at least 12:30 by large maples. Daylilies are supposed to have at least 6 hours of direct sun to bloom well, and mine got 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Oops.

But they bloomed fine. "Well, it's bright shade," I said. I didn't know there was such a thing as "bright shade," but there is, and it makes a difference.

So if you don't have an area with enough direct sun, look for an area which gets as much direct sun as possible, and some bright shade.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 11:14AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I have a spot that gets 8 or so hours in May. Then is shaded by July and only gets about 4 hours. They do great.

When the unbearable heat and humidity of July arrives the ones that get full sun stop and these keep on producing.

I wouldn't plant a beefsteak type. I grow early girls and Marion there. They aren't sandwich sized per slice, but better than putting 20 cherries on one.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 2:33PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Congrats Tom on finally having full sun for tomatoes. Must be very exciting!

I hadnâÂÂt even thought about the plants staying too damp. I have morning sun and late afternoon shade, so that is probably not as much of a problem for me.

I think the difference between zone 7b and 6a would be enough to mk my production different then yours, Jeff, but it is encouraging that I at least have the best hours of sun.

missingtheobvious, I have a paving stone patio and hadnâÂÂt thought about it but I could put a container of tomatoes on the patio and maybe that would give me more heat and see how that works out.

Okay, well, it seems my situation might not be as bad as I was thinking. I can try to increase the amount of plants to mk up for lower production and try using the patio with containers and keep an eye on the foliage in morning shade situations.

Thanks for all the help⦠:-)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:34PM
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Try not to let them shade one another. It won't do any good to add plants
if the shade from the added ones block the sun for the original ones.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:59PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Good thought, gaguy, thanks!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 6:25AM
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I also have only 6 hrs of sun for my garden. Plus I cant plant out until the end of May. The big producers for me are the roma sized tomatoes. Last year my Genovese Costoluta, and Purple Russian were my biggest producers by far. Early Girl did fairly well, but the fruit were not large. The other various beefstake types I tried produced very few tomatoes. I have similar experience with peppers - hardly get any Bell, but Anaheim sized are prolific.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 7:19AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Thanks for the names of the varieties you have had good luck with, mandolls. I have one full sun bed in the front of my house and tried a couple of Bush Champion out there which were only 3-4ft tall and I could hide them from the street. They did produce a LOT of tomatoes, and they actually tasted good. The only problem was they were very dense and all the tomatoes were in the middle and all developed at the same time. So I did have some foliar problems toward the end of the season. Plus in order to rotate crops, I can't keep planting them in the same place. So this year I'm skipping tomatoes there and using containers in the back where I have only the 6hrs of sun. I'll try some roma tomatoes. I've done okay with Peppers but again, 4-5 fruits per plant. I got a lot with Giant Marconi which are long and not bell shaped.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 4:56PM
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