All plants need sunlight to produce energy for growth. But some plants need more of it than others to thrive. So how much sunlight does your veggie patch need?
Most vegetable patches need to be in full sun. As a general guide, veggies that require root or fruit development the more sunlight they require. Delicate leafy vegetables will tolerate less sun if you have a spot that is partially shaded.
Most seed packets or plant instructions will tell you how much sun a plant requires but what does it mean?
Here are some common terms used to describe sunlight requirements for veggies
Full Sun - an area that gets unobstructed sunlight for at least 6-8 hours per day between 10am and 4pm.
Partial Sun or Partial Shade - an area that gets around 4-6 hours of sunlight, preferably first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
Full Shade - an area that gets no direct sunlight, but receives bright, indirect light or a short period first thing in the morning or late in the evening.
Dappled Shade - an area beneath trees where the tree foliage filters the incoming light, creating shifting patterns of sun and shade.
Here in Brisbane in the subtropics of Australia, because we are closer to the equator, our sunlight requirements are far less than those who are further south (in the southern hemisphere). This means full sun for us can be on the lower end of the scale of 6 hours, often in summer we could get away with far less. However if you are in Tasmania, you might need the full 8 hours to qualify as ‘full sun’.
Choose your garden position for optimal sunlight
When first setting up your garden you really need to look at how much the site you’ve chosen gets. The most common problem I see with garden setups is people not positioning for maximum sun in the cooler months, they don’t realise the sun position changes.
Here in the southern hemisphere as the seasons change the sun moves more to the North. If your garden is obstructed by trees on the northern side of the garden, chances are in Winter it will be completely shaded in the peak of your growing season.
Here in the subtropics I try to ensure my winter position is better for sunlight than my summer. I find that in summer I don’t want as much sunlight hitting my plants as it gets way too hot.
Should you use shade cloth to protect plants in Summer?
If your temperatures are getting up there during summer and you do find that your plants literally cook or burn, you may want to look at installing shade cloth, particularly for the hottest parts of the day. We use shade on some of the hottest days to protect our leafy veggies. We use 30% shade for this and opt for either white or green to ensure the plants receive the right spectrum as well as not trapping heat.
Instead of completely covering the patch I look at positioning it so it receives that morning sunshine and then from midday the patch is protected. You can easily do this with a hoop setup, or do it naturally by planting any climbing plants on a trellis on the western side of your patch or planting taller crops that tolerate more sun in that position.
Do you have a shady patch? Or are you finding it too hot in summer? Leave a comment below and share any tips you may have.