Think About Shade

When you are laying out your garden for the year it’s hard to think about the shade that your freshly planted crop is soon to cast, but it’s a very important part of the planning stages of a successful garden. Many plants grow so large, so fast that they create shade on nearby plants significantly hampering their production.

I wish that I had planted my asparagus in a north south oriented row so that I would now have afternoon shade for the summer lettuce. When the asparagus harvest is done you let the stalks grow up to be 5′ tall ferns that work all summer collecting energy for the roots, so you get a plentiful harvest next year. It makes much nicer shade than the 5 gallon buckets with 2×6 boards stretched across that I’m using now. They look too tacky to remain in place for more than a few days.

I had to pull up my first planting of broccoli today, not because they weren’t still putting out florets, but because they were throwing too much shade. They formed a 3′ tall hedge. I’ll still get florets from my second planting until the corn starts ripening, and then who needs broccoli? I laid them end to end along the fence line on top of the pea vines which had all turned brown. Some people call this “lasagna composting” because it’s layer upon layer. The bolted lettuce got hand shredded and tucked in around the kale stalks. ” Leave no soil uncovered” is a gardeners mantra.

It may take a few years to get the hang of which plants are going to create “shade hedges” as the season progresses. I still make this mistake on what seems like an annual basis.

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