How much sunlight is needed?

    Light is one of the most important elements in growing vegetables and is probably the one that we have least control over. When growing vegetables consider the amount of light your area will be getting. Most vegetables need an average of 6 hours of sunlight. Do not be too concerned if your garden plot is in a shady area as leaf and root vegetables ( lettuce, peas, carrots, kale, swiss chard ) will tolerate some shade. Vegetables that produce fruit ( tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash ) are the ones that need full sun – but these can easily be grown in containers on a sunny patio. Container gardening is a wonderful way to grow your vegetables.

How Much Sun for Vegetable Garden?

    A common question we get is just how much sun exposure does a vegetable garden need? Here are some general recommendations for various types of plants in your garden.Vegetables prefer a full day of sun, but if you live in a shady suburb you don’t have to give up the idea of growing vegetables. Here are some mbyinn_01-7b681e8inimum sunlight requirements:

Fruiting Vegetables – 8 hours of sun. This includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and vine crops such as cucumbers, melons, and squash.

Root Vegetables – 6 hours of sun Carrots, beets, etc.

Leafy Vegetables – 4 hours of sun. These are your “greens” such as lettuce, spinach and collards.

*Keep in mind that these are minimums.

    Increasing the amount of sunlight your vegetables receive will increase the yield and quality of your crop. Even though your vegetables may get enough light when planted near a tree, they will not get enough nourishment and water. Vegetables can’t compete with an established tree for essential nutrients and moisture.

    Vegetables and herbs that are more tolerant of less light Root crops and leafy vegetables are more accepting of less light conditions, than the sunhungry tomatoes and peppers. Although the vegetable and herb choices listed below do not grow in the shade, they are a bit more tolerant of less sunshine than the 8 hour minimum. They will still need about 6 hours of sunshine per day.

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Keep in mind that no vegetable will grow in full, dense shade. The following crops will produce with three to six hours of sun, or fairly constant dappled shade, per day.

1. Salad Greens, such as leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress.

2. Broccoli

3. Cauliflower

4. Peas

5. Beets

6. Brussels Sprouts

7. Radishes

8. Swiss Chard

9. Leafy Greens, such as collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale

10. Beans

    In some ways, growing in a site with part shade is easier than growing in full sun. You won’t have to water as often, and crops that are quick to bolt in hot weather, such as lettuces and spinach, will grow quite a bit longer given some shade.

    The best thing about knowing that these crops will successfully grow with some shade is that you’ll be able to get more produce from your garden. Even if you’re lucky enough to have an area with full sun that you can reserve for a vegetable garden, knowing which plants will take some shade will help you get the most out of your space. You can use that sunny space to grow the sun-lovers: peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, corn, and squashes. The other crops, those that do well in the shade, can be tucked in anywhere. Grow some beets or swiss chard in your partsun perennial border. Grow some lettuce or radishes in a container or window box. Make use of the space you have, in both sun and shade, and you can easily double the amount of vegetables you would usually get.

    Having a shady garden doesn’t mean you’re destined to live a life devoid of fresh garden vegetables. By making the most of what you have, you can harvest lettuces, peas, and other tasty veggies from spring through fall.

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