Spring has arrived and has made quite the entrance with intense heat and glorious bright sunshine. We are starting to embrace shorter sleeves and soaking up that beautiful warm sunshine. We know our veggie garden needs on average at least 6-8 hours of sunlight daily but why is sunshine so important? How much exactly do plants need? What about shade? What benefits does it have for our garden and us? Why do many people try and avoid it completely and is that ok? In the following blog we answer these questions and help you get your sunshine working for you…
Why is sun so important for the garden and how much does your garden need?
It is simple no sun no vegetable garden; plants need water, soil and light to grow! Sunlight provides the energy for plants to grow (those crazy primary school science experiments regarding photosynthesis pop to mind right about now!). Did you know that sun requirements differ? Some plants like lettuce flourish in a slightly shady area. While other plants that produce fruit like tomatoes and peppers need full sun to flourish. Each strip of seed tape in the Reel Gardening gardens in a box indicates the amount of sunlight needed for that plant to optimally grow.
Lettuce – partial shade
Spinach – full sunlight
Tomato – full sunlight
Green Pepper – full sunlight
Rocket – full sunlight
Nasturtium – full sunlight
Marigold – full sunlight
Sunflower – full sunlight
Rocket – full sunlight
Chilli – full sunlight
Basil – full sunlight
Parsley – full sunlight
Coriander – full sunlight
Gem Squash – full sunlight
Beetroot – full sunlight
Green Beans – full sunlight
Sweetcorn – full sunlight
Butternut – full sunlight
Carrot – full sunlight
Onion – full sunlight
Cabbage – full sunlight
Peas – full sunlight
Borage – full sunlight
Poppy – full sunlight
Although most plants flourish in full sun and the more sun the healthier the crop some vegetables and herbs are more tolerant of less light. Root and leafy vegetables will tolerate less sun if they must but fruiting vegetables will not. Leafy vegetables need a minimum of 4 hours of sun every day, root vegetables need a minimum of 6 hours of sun every day and fruiting vegetables need the most optimally 8 hours or more of sun to produce a mighty crop.
Know your sun’s schedule for your garden!
People always gush about a north facing house and it’s not for no reason. If you have a north or north-east facing garden you will get direct sunlight, throughout the day in every season! This is the ideal environment for your vegetable garden.
If your garden is east-facing you will get morning sun for your garden but the afternoons/evenings won’t have much. Summer mornings will likely be very hot and water might evaporate quickly from your garden (if you water in the mornings).
Gardens that face south get very little sun. It could be quite dark and certain weeds might flourish more than crops. There won’t be much warmth or sun for you or your plants to soak up.
Gardens that face west have late afternoon evening light. The morning will be very cold and late afternoons with have low but intense sun. This is because the sun sets in the west. Low sun means lots of shadow and uneven distribution of light over plant leaves. You might be able to get some quality sunshine that isn’t too harsh but it isn’t ideal for your plants.
Regardless of the position of your garden you can still monitor how your specific garden receives sun. You can see which areas are in dark shade most of the day and which get the most sunshine and thus plan your vegetable garden accordingly.
Getting the right amount of sunshine makes all the difference to get a glorious harvest. Having more sun normally means the healthier the crop and having too little sunshine leaves plants stunted and means you might have a low producing or no harvest.
To sunshine or not to sunshine…
Not only does your garden need sunshine so do you! Sunshine plays a pivotal a role in your mood, sleep, blood pressure and so many other aspects in your life. Why then do so many try to avoid it as much as they can? Well just like most things in life too much of anything is bad, its all about having the right balance. Too much sun can be harmful to your skin and cause premature aging and skin cancer. Too little can be equally dangerous; risk of depression and a lack of vitamin D that can result in rickets or osteoporosis. Vitamin D also assists in protecting you from many forms of cancer and reduces your risk of multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
How much sun should we get?
It is optimal for you to spend around 15 minutes in the sun everyday to reap all the benefits. So enjoy the sun safely by avoiding the hottest part of the day (11am- 3pm) and using protective clothing and sunscreen especially if you going to be longer than 15 minutes.
The benefits of you getting a healthy amount of sunshine!
- Sunlight initiates the release of the hormone serotonin. People with low level of serotonin are at a higher risk of major depression.
- Sunlight also benefits premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Anxiety and panic attacks have also been linked with a lack of sunlight.
- Sunshine makes you body create vitamin D! This helps build strong bones.
- As previously mentioned sunlight can be preventative to some cancers such as colon, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic.
- Getting some sunshine can also help with certain skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, jaundice and acne.
- It helps your body set its internal clock for your to get a great nights sleep.
- It has been linked to living longer, according to a study done by The Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.
- Vitamin D also aids in boosting your immune system, reducing inflammation and aiding in healthy brain function, cardiovascular health!
- Sunlight is linked with the release of beta-endorphin this chemical makes you ‘happy’ and is a huge mood booster!
Now that we know more about the role sunshine plays, how it affects our precious veggie gardens and us, we can appreciate and make informed decisions how to get the right amount of sun. So remember to always be safe and get the right balance of those beautiful golden rays this Spring/Summer. Wishing you all Sunshine and happiness!