Sunday, August 31, 2008

Overtaken by Shade

This is a photo of my garden at about 1pm in the afternoon. The bed on the left hand side is all in shade. Those are my tomatoes, pepper and eggplants. In the mid summer they are in sun after about 11am, but as the sun sinks lower in the sky, the huge oak tree in my neighbor's yard becomes more of an issue.

Seventeen years ago when we moved into this house and this garden was first conceived, it was all in sun. But trees grow and the garden changes. I still get plenty of produce out of it, but if I had it to do over again, I would remove the maple tree in the front yard and move it all forward.

Those poor crops in the nightshade family don't see much sun at all right now. There is some later in the day, but not much. The cucurbits are pretty happy since they are the ones in the bed on the right side of the photo. The sun hits the zucchinis fairly early and stays all day long. The beans are doing well too. They are in the middle bed and their tepee sticks up above the shade, so they get plenty of sun. And they have really started producing. The Kentucky Wonder beans have been producing for a long time, but the Fortex has been slow. This last week it has finally taken off and has been pumping out beans.

I can't keep up with the supply of beans so today I started freezing. First I blanch the beans for a few minutes then plunge them into ice water. Then I put them on a cookie sheet to freeze. The light green beans are the Kentucky Wonder. They are almost yellow in color. The darker ones are the Fortex beans. These are the most beautiful beans. Long and straight. They didn't start really producing until the rains quit. I guess they hate the rain. I'll be growing these two beans next year too. I only used six beans for each when I planted. I have plenty left.


  1. Pretty beans! Your garden looks awesome, sorry about the shade factor. Can you put some stuff out by the street, if it gets more sun?
    - Karen

  2. Too bad about the sun and the tree, your garden is beautiful and sure needs its full dose of sun! I noticed that as the angle of the sun changes each fall, more of my plants lean forward until they appear to reaching for something.


  3. As our light cycle gets shorter and shorter here, we're preparing to tent our tomatoes with either that gardening cloth or just full on green housing them in a giant plastic tent to magnify the sun as much as possible. Just the first thing we thought of when you started talking about the shade on your tomatoes.

    Good luck!!

  4. Haha, can't anticipate everything when you buy a home and start your garden, eh? Glad to hear things are still doing well - even if they COULD be better.

    Those beans are beautiful! We experienced our own innundation with green beans awhile back from our CSA, there are only so many green beans a couple can eat, so I spent the day freezing them. It'll be worth it though come winter when I am munching on local green beans and there is snow on the ground!

  5. I am really impressed that your garden has done so well, considering the shade issue. Those beans look so good and there are so many of them!

  6. Hey thanks for the bean freezing instructions. I have just been dumping them in a gallon baggy and they get all mushy together.

  7. Karen: No the maple trees shade that area of yard quite well. Right now the garden is smack dab between the front yard trees and the back yard trees. I do have one sunny spot in the front yard. Right in front of my front door. I'm not quite willing yet to dig that up.

    Gail: I have some leaning trees too. There is a crab apple tree that used to have some sun, but is in the shade of the same oak as my garden. It is trying to reach out and grab that sun.

    Shibaguyz: I'm contemplating the same thing. A tunnel to keep some thing warm this autumn, but not the tomatoes, just the fall crops.

    Jennifer: Thanks. It will be nice to have a taste of summer to defrost when winter hits.

    dp: Thanks, I'm actually shocked they are still growing at all. Next year's position will be better. The greens will have the shaded bed and the tomatoes the sunniest.

    Aunt Debbi: Your welcome. I freeze everything on cookie sheets. Sometimes I just want a few and sometimes a lot, so I need to be able to get them apart.

  8. I also grew Kentucky Wonder this year and I can't pick them fast enough. As a result though, they are fat and lumpy - not at all as pretty as yours.

    I sympathize with your shade issue. I had to take out a tree in my backyard last year. It was painful, but I have so much more sun now, and light in my house, too. I was able to take a limb off a tree in my front yard that was shading my flower bed, but now it's all shady there again.

  9. Yes that is a major flaw with Kentucky Wonder. There is one day that you should pick them. Before that they are too small; after that they are too big. So you need to pick them every day without fail. I have heard (though I've never done it) that you can pick them as fresh or dried beans too. So if they get too big just let them grow a few more days and eat them like Lima beans.