If your garden suffers from lack of full sun – you might find these tips helpful
Most vegetables and herbs require ‘full sun’ for optimum growth. This is generally understood to be six hours of direct sunlight a day – which can prove troublesome in gardens where there are shadows thrown by nearby trees and shrubs, or neighbouring walls and houses. That said, a garden that receives four to five or even as little as three hours of direct sun can still be made to work, though ultimate success depends on climate and soil.
Here are some ways to make the most of the sun.
1. Let it shine
Where possible thin out the canopies of nearby trees, cut off overhanging branches and reduce the height of shrubs. This can make a huge difference to the amount of sun coming into the garden. Each spring make it a routine task to get rid of the previous summer’s growth.
2. Lighten the soil
Soil under trees tends to be harder, often because the soil is compacted by water dripping off the leaves so dig deeper than normal and add extra organic material to make the soil friable. Where there is wet shade mix sand and a high proportion of organics into the soil to improve drainage because in general vegetables don’t like their roots to sit in cold, wet soil.
3. Choose with care
The following herbs and vegetables will grow with less than six hours of sun a day.
Herbs: asparagus, celery (in temperate to hot areas), coriander (cilantro), fennel, lemon balm, mint, Jerusalem artichokes (semi shade under deciduous trees), oregano, parsley (in temperate to hot areas), rocket, rhubarb (grows tall and succulent in semi-shade, especially in hot areas), sorrel, salad burnet and watercress. Alliums: chives, garlic chives, garlic, onions and leeks (hot summers only –good under deciduous trees) Leafy vegetables: lettuce (in particular the cut and come again varieties), kale, cabbage, oriental greens (pakchoi, tatsoi and mizuna), spinach (dappled light in hot areas) and ornamental chard (and other chard varieties that are more shade-tolerant than the common Ford hook Giant). Root vegetables: beetroot, carrots, potatoes, turnips and radishes grow better if they receive afternoon shade, especially in February, which can be the hottest month of the year. In hot summers potatoes can be grown in dappled light under trees or pergolas. Fruiting vegetables: in very hot climates and during the hottest time of the year, capsicums (chillies and sweet peppers) do best with morning sun and afternoon shade. Generally, however, fruiting vegetables tend to require more sun, because the fruit needs to be exposed to the sun to ripen. One strategy is to train squash and vine tomatoes upwards using a trellis so that the roots are in the shade while the top growth gets sun.
4. Water less An area that receives shade
doesn’t dry out as quickly and thus needs less water. To ensure that you don’t over water these areas, push a finger into the soil to test for moisture. Delay watering until the next day if it feels sufficiently moist.
5. Feed less frequently
In shady areas feeding should also be less frequent because less water is being applied. Also, organics break down more slowly in the shade, which means that soil enriched with compost and other organic material will require less supplementation.
Capitalizing on your Cannas.
These herbaceous perennials can be used as much for their bold foliage as their brightly coloured flowers. Clumps interspersed amongst shrubs and other perennials contrast strikingly with the companion plants. Use Cannas as focal points in mixed pots or containers filled with an array of spring and summer flowering perennials and annuals. Used discreetly and wisely these easy-to-grow and rewarding plants add body and substance to many gardens.
Cannas grow best in rich, loamy soils and always benefit from an annual mulch of well rotted animal manure in early spring. This encourages lush, healthy foliage and masses of blooms right through the flowering season. Whilst they survive dry periods in harsh climates due to the food reserves stored in their fleshy rhizomes, they definitely grow best when watered lavishly. Full sun or dappled shade gives the best results – too much shade results in weak, straggly growth and few, if any, flowers.
It is easy to propagate Cannas by simply dividing up the rhizomes in early spring. This task should be carried out at least every second year to rejuvenate the plants. Cut all the foliage stems off level with the ground and lift the rhizomes carefully with a sharp garden fork. Cut the fleshy rhizomatous stems into sections that are about 10 to 15cm long, making sure that each section has a prominent new growth bud (called an ‘eye’). Prepare the soil for replanting by digging in lashings of compost, along with a root-stimulating fertiliser like superphosphate or bone meal. Plant the sections back into position at a
depth of 8 to 10cm.
Article By: Jane Barsby