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Gardening Tips for Shady Places
There are two critical things you need for a successful garden--water and sun. Lack of water is easily remedied but lack of sunshine? That's a tough problem for gardeners as I'm learning this spring.
I have to admit that last year's garden didn't do so well ... sigh.. as I was in the middle of getting ready for my daughter's wedding (which was beautiful!) but this year my garden has been thriving! Unfortunately I can't say the same for the raised garden beds I'm managing for a women's ministry about an hour from our home.
It occurred to me that the culprit was shade and waaay too much rain. Pooey! In the winter, their beds have plenty of sunshine, but in the summer their beautiful grounds are covered several hours worth of shade.
Some of the beds get plenty of sunshine and some get very little. With our very damp and cool weather this spring, the sunlight loving plants have hardly grown at all.
My potatoes and green beans did really well in spite of partial shade.
Tips for Gardening in the Shade from Harvest to Table
1. Plant vegetables that like shade or do well in partial shade.
My potatoes are thriving! I've never planted potatoes before and am really excited about how well they are growing. The green beans like partial shade as well and seem to be tolerating the conditions.
Vegetable grown for their leaves and roots are the best choices for shady gardens. Salad greens such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and celery can be grown in shaded gardens. Roots crops such as beets, leeks, potatoes, and turnips can be grown in shady gardens.
2. Don't plant vegetables that need lots of sunshine.My tomatoes are growing super slow and the cucumber and squashes seem miserable. I did skip the peppers and eggplants in the New Life Women's Center garden and instead planted them in my home garden where there's plenty of light.
Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are not good choices for shady sites; fruit-setting crops prefer eight or more hours of direct sun each day. But some varieties of fruiting vegetables—determinate or bush tomatoes, for example, and tomatoes adapted to cool conditions—can grow where there are as few as five to six hours of direct sun.
3. Fertilize squash and tomatoes to help speed up growth.
These squash were doing so bad, that even though I composted the beds with compost in January, I decided to add some Miracle-gro garden soil too. I just wasn't sure what else to do and was getting desperate. Yipes!
PS.What sweet friends and kiddos to help me--love my church!
I also fertilized with Miracle-Gro and homemade compost tea. My tea was my neighbor's idea and is made up of eggshells, tea and coffee grounds, banana peels and epsom salt. Let it sit out in the sun and stir every day for a week or so. Be sure to dilute it before pouring on your plants!
Also, my super amazing neighbor whose garden would just astonish you said to make a spray in an empty spray bottle out of the epsom salts and water to spray your tomato leaves and that will green them right up!
4. Use plastic mulch!Mulch holds the warmth and moisture in and keeps some bugs out. I am a big fan of black plastic mulch and it works fine for most things but red plastic mulch in particular is supposed to be especially good for tomatoes because it reflects red light onto the leaves and helps them get as much benefit as possible from the sun. By the way, I've tried several kinds of pegs and the best are just simple garden staples. I linked to the best bargain for those that I could find so you don't have to hunt for them. I used some really big plastic spikes last year and they were a hassle.
It could help reflect light and heat on to the plants. I can't wait to try this idea and plan to lay out foil and red plastic later this week.
5. Try aluminum foil around squash and other plants that are growing slowly.
6. Plant near a white wall (or make a 'fence' nearby) to reflect heat and light on your garden.Too bad this is not an option for my situation.
7. Try planting cool weather vegetables.My lettuces did great in my sunny garden--but I bet they won't last long. :( So I transplanted about 50 of my 'thinnings' to the New Life garden where they ought to thrive! This seed starter greenhouse was extremely helpful! Lettuces are supposed to do well in the summer--leaf lettuce in particular. I also have six cabbages growing in my 'sunny' garden, and have decided to transplant them to the girls' damp and shady garden where they may actually survive our Texas heat.
8. Plant some things in containers and just move into the sun.This is a great idea for small scale gardeners! Tomatoes and Malabar spinach--even squash would do great I would think.
(Ps. I am using the rest of the chicken wire for a small fence around my home garden. Pesky rabbits! I did buy a bottle of small animal repellent per advice of a different neighbor but not sure it will work.)
I'm so grateful the Lord inspired me to go ahead and start a home garden even though I was going to have my hands full with the women's center garden. Having a back up place to grow vegetables that needed the sun was a big help too.
Really, the rest is up to the Lord and I know He will bless our gardening efforts! I take every thing to Him and literally pray for increase in my garden. I am not a great gardener so I'm relying on the advice of good friends and the Lord's help and inspiration every step of the way.
It's been so long since I posted but I am going back to it now that I have time again. I've been busy with lots of fun projects while offline and hope you will enjoy the next month's posts on beekeeping, sock monkeys, recovering cushions, sewing banners, and a cool Mother's Day coffee cake with almond flour!
I miss all my blogging friends and can't wait to hear from you.
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6