Why is the role of partial shade so important in organic vegetable gardening? Moreover, how can this level of shade be accomplished? Is it really essential to have it in order for your produce to thrive? Seasoned gardeners know that having the right amount of shade can be just as important as having the right amount of sun. This is all the truth if you want to grow organic vegetables. The amount of sun exposure and shade needed will depend upon the types of vegetables that you hope to produce. Learning all you can about the plant and what it needs will ensure an optimal output.
Being in touch with your garden and with nature is your main goal as an organic gardener. So, before getting started, you have to be patient, hard-working and committed to taking a natural and holistic approach to the entire process – everything is dependent upon you and you’ll ultimately have little to rely on but yourself and the natural environment.
There are two Latin words from which horticulture is derived: hortus or garden plant and cultura, which stands for culture. This is a fusion of science and art that will allow you to produce flowers, fruits and vegetables, and a variety of ornamental or aesthetically-pleasing plants.
There are five aspects or areas of study in horticulture: landscape horticulture which involves landscape ornaments or aesthetics, floriculture which involves floral or flowering plants, pomology which involves the study of fruits, and post-harvest physiology, which is all about ensuring that the harvested produce remains fresh and learning ways to stave off rot.
The fifth and final area of horticulture studies is olericulture, which is something that might pique your interest if you happen to like vegetable gardening, given that this details the process of growing crops and marketing them.
You probably know that plants need water, sun, and soil if they’re going to thrive. You should also note, however, that plants additionally need shade, especially if you’re growing vegetables given that shade is vital for protecting these plants and for ensuring an optimal harvest.
With organic vegetable gardening, it’s possible to lower the temperatures of leaves by as much as 10 percent by simply exposing these plants to between 30 and 50 percent shade. For coastal and northern climates, the suggestion is 30 percent shade, while as much as 47 to 50 percent shade is recommended for hot places that are constantly summer-like.
By taking advantage of these recommendations, it’s possible to produce vegetables such as mustard greens, arugula and lettuce of very high qualities.
It is additionally possible to lower soil temperatures by three to six degrees Fahrenheit with shade. This is great for vegetables like turnips, radishes, broccoli, chard, mustard greens, cabbages, and spinach – all of which grow directly in the soil. These vegetables have a better ability to germinate when soil temperatures are 80 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Creating A Shade Tent
You have the option of creating handmade tents for your plants. This is great if you happen to be growing lots of produce and are unable to tend to each plant individually by placing a shade cloth over each one.
To create your shade tent, start with a durable plastic tube that has a diameter of approximate 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch. Cut about six feet of this tube, which should be sufficient for creating an arch that is about a foot above your vegetables. At each arch, place rebar or bamboo stakes every 18 inches or so. Push these into the ground around the sides of the beds so that only ten inches of each stake is visible. You can then slide the end of the tube into the stakes so that it starts to bow.
Once this foundation has been placed, you can simply lay a shade cloth over the top of the arches so that the plant bed is shaded. Be sure to clip the edges of the cloth to the tube so that it stays put.
Keep in mind that if you don’t have access to partial shade for your vegetable garden, you can always make your own by using the steps shared above.