Counting the Hours of Sunlight
There will be talk again beyond gardening, I promise, but looking back on my days lately means looking back on a whole lot of harvesting the summer garden and tending to newly planted fall crops. There are two gallons of beans to blanch and freeze today, and several pounds of tomatoes to roast from a friend who took pity on us and our blighty harvest.
Soon I'll write about other happenings. For now, there's a bit more garden chat to catch up on.
Harvesting our planned crop of tomatoes is not happening (thank you so much for your support and advice about that), but everything else is holding pretty strong out there. I really can't complain. Especially knowing many of you have had a terribly dry summer and lost nearly everything in your gardens.
The garden at our former house was shadier and smaller than the one we have now. So much shadier in fact that I spent a full day last summer taking pictures every hour to count the exact amount of sunlight I had. I turned out I had about two hours of direct sunlight.
I was actually encouraged because in that garden I'd been able to grow certain sun-loving veggies quite well - green beans, cucumbers, and basil in addition to the obvious choices of greens, peas, cabbage and broccoli - all of which did just fine. Well, the cabbage never survived the pest stage. But everything else was good.
Our final year in that home I was feeling bold and decided to put one tomato plant in the ground, just to see. I chose a crowd pleasing, quick to ripen variety (Sungold) and waited for the first plump fruit to appear. Even though I was secretly very doubtful. I only had two hours of sunlight after all.
Well, ripen it did! Many times over!!
Sure, my plant would've had greater yield given more hours of sunlight, but I couldn't imagine a greater harvest from the beans and cucumbers. Both were quite prolific! So, a little lesson learned over in that shady garden - experiment, play around, try new things. Some sun-loving plants just might grow.
With the decision not to plant tomatoes in our main garden next year, we began looking elsewhere on the property. Where we now live is certainly spacious enough, we have several acres here, but being nestled in the woods doesn't exactly leave too many sunny options. My parents built this home when I was five years old so there have been many, many summers spent here. I know this land well.
Funny thing though, there are huge trees in places that were open to the blue sky when I was a little girl. There is a spot on the property that has always been referred to as "the back field," and it truly was at one time; but now it is more of a field with a few large shade trees sprinkled throughout. Lovely for relaxing on a summer afternoon, not so perfect for a woman looking to grow tomato plants.
Yesterday was fore-casted to be clear skies and sunny all day. Just the right conditions to set the stove timer every sixty minutes, keep my camera close by, and count the hours of sunlight in the field.
I love this little exercise. It's one that I highly recommend if you're unsure of just how sunny a spot on your property is. Oh, please excuse ladder and the fence posts... there's always something "in progress" around here. ;)
Given that we are in the later weeks of summer, I'm comfortable adding an hour to yesterday's calculations to estimate number of sun filled hours during our peak growing season. To be honest, the amount of sunlight recorded yesterday was less than I expected. Bummer. Not exactly the 6-8 hours recommend for a vegetable garden. One huge ash tree is responsible for at least two hours of shade, if not more. Hmm...
I'll plant anyway, even if it is an experiment of sorts.
That is it for now. I've been writing this post all day long - between taking care of those green beans, roasting tomatoes, making egg salad, and being an adoring fan to Emily and Scout's training sessions. Now it's time to make a cup of my new tea and finish processing the Whole Food Kitchen registrations that have come in this week. (Thank you so much for such a warm reception by the way, it's going to be a wonderful class!)
Have a great weekend!