Last Updated on January 16, 2022
How much sun does a vegetable garden need? It’s a question that you don’t have to think about very often, but it becomes important when you are trying to decide what plants will survive in the shade, or in partial shade versus lots of sunshine.
Whenever you plan your garden, aside from the space itself and soil quality, water, and nutrients your plant needs, it’s essential to consider how much sunlight it should get.
This is the amount of sunlight that falls on a garden each day. The more sunlight, the better since plants need nutrients from the sun to survive and grow.
That said, not all gardens get enough sunlight, and not all vegetable plants need constant sun, so you might want to factor this in too.
For instance, some veggies need six or more hours of sunlight per day while others only need four or five. This is usually determined by where the flower is natively found on earth. You can also use this information to help plan out your garden and how much space each plant needs for optimal growth.
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The benefits of having enough sunlight in your garden
Aside from the fact that your vegetable garden will grow bigger, more plentiful vegetables, it will also be more resistant to bugs and other pests. That means that there are less likely to be any chemical treatments needed during the growing season.
Plants need enough sunlight so they can absorb nutrients through their leaves instead of just absorbing water through their roots. Also, plants that don’t get enough sun might not bear fruit or flowers at all.
The sun also helps the plants produce chlorophyll, which assists them in processing nutrients more efficiently.
It also provides essential warmth for nighttime protection against frost damage, as well as helps them to grow strong and produce more fruit.
To know what the sun needs are for the veggies you will plant, research the preferred amount of sunlight each plant needs and check out how much sunlight your garden gets and where the shadows fall throughout the day.
If there is too little sunlight, you need to figure out where to position the plants in your garden to get more sunlight.
Let’s take a deeper dive into all of those factors.
What types of vegetables flourish in full sun?
Examples of sun vegetables are tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, melons, squash, and cucumbers are all examples of vegetables that need full sun.
Full sun is defined as six or more hours of direct sunlight every day.
What vegetables thrive in partial shade?
Lettuce, peas, carrots, and cabbage are examples of vegetables that can handle some shade during the day. Partial sun is defined as four to six hours of direct sunlight per day.
If your garden gets less than four hours of sun per day, you need to decide if you want to choose vegetables that can handle less sunlight or if you want to use containers or raised beds and place them where the sun naturally shines during the day.
If Your Vegetable Garden Doesn’t Get Enough Sun
If your garden doesn’t get enough sunlight, you have a few options to maximize sun exposure.
Plant vegetables that are tolerant of partial shade if this is possible in your space.
You can also choose to use containers or raised beds for your veggies. They can be moved around to make sure that your veggies get enough sunlight.
Finally, you could grow vegetables that need less light or no sun at all in your garden. These types of plants include root vegetables and leafy greens like turnips and kale. They also include fruiting crops like cucumbers and tomatoes because these crops produce fruit indoors, although tomatoes will thrive the best when they have at least partial sun.
The more you learn about your garden and what veggies will thrive there, the easier it is to make a plan and grow delicious food for your family.
Choosing plants for partial sun areas
Many vegetables love the partial sunlight areas in your garden, so you can plant these veggies if you don’t have much room to dedicate to a full-sun area.
Some plants that grow well in partial sun and even in deep shade include: beets, carrots, leafy vegetables such as lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard; peppers, tomatoes, onions, spinach, collards greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and beans.
Is There Too Much Sunlight in My Vegetable Garden?
If your vegetable garden gets too much sun (is that really possible?), plant sun-loving vegetables and use containers or raised beds if you want to grow some vegetables that do better in partial sun.
You can also plant vegetables that like full sun and then surround the plants with things that will help protect their leaves from getting burned. Can other types of plants be placed around the vegetable to shield them from the sun?
Yes, a good option is to plant shrubs or plants that will grow taller and provide some of shade. You could also choose to plant your veggies in containers or raised beds and then surround them with other things like shrubs.
Take steps to protect plants that get too much sunlight
If you notice that your veggies are scorching in the afternoon sun or they look like their leaves are drooping, it’s time to take action.
First, invest in some shade cloth for your garden. You can make a quick and easy version of this using an old sheet or mark off an area on the ground with extra rocks to provide protection from the afternoon sun.
If you want to learn more about how much sunlight your vegetable garden needs or what veggies can handle less sun, contact a local greenhouse or farm supply for advice on your garden space. They might even be able to suggest plants that would grow well there.
You also have to consider the intensity of the sun in your area. Some plants, like dahlias, thrive if given partial shade all day long while others, like tomatoes and cucumbers, need direct sunlight for several hours a day to become big and stay healthy.
If you are planning on planting this vegetable this year but it only gets four or five hours of sunlight each day, you should try using other vegetables that do well in less sun. You can also use this information to help plan out your garden and how much space each plant needs for optimal growth
How to calculate how much sun your garden will get
As a new gardener there are many factors to consider, and figuring out the sun your garden gets each day is a top priority. There are several ways to help you find the answer.
This should be clearly stated on the seeds that you purchase. For example, if you’re looking to grow tomatoes, it will most likely say that it needs full sun to thrive. That means your plant should get anywhere from 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
Some vegetables, for example, will require less light, such as partial or low sunshine. 4-6 hours of direct sunshine per day would be ideal for the full sun, whereas 1-4 hours of direct sunlight per day would be perfect for the lower sun. If you’re growing indoors and relying on your window’s natural light, you can supplement with additional artificial lights.
If you’re still not sure if your plants will receive enough sunlight, there are other ways to determine this. You can learn to do this by using a sun map to determine how much natural sunlight is in your garden area throughout the day.
Or, let technology do the work for you with sun calculators you can purchase.
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The really, really simple method, my friend, is to spend a little time in the area of your anticipated vegetable garden and see what type of sunlight it is getting at various times of the day. Not scientific, but will probably give you what you need.
Plants and vegetables that thrive with little or no direct sunlight
Gardens that have shade from trees or buildings, a low slope, a southern exposure, or a lot of leafy trees and shrubs should be planted with plants and vegetables that thrive without much sun. This could include asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, onions scallions, tomatoes, parsley, and sage.
Some shade-tolerant herbs to consider are chives, dill, oregano, parsley, thyme, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), mints, tarragon, and ferns.
Ways to maximize the amount of light in your garden
For vegetables and other plants that require more sun, consider investing in a greenhouse or putting up a hoop house. Additionally, for vegetable gardens specifically, it may be beneficial to plant rows of tall crops around the perimeter rather than planting them towards the center of the garden.
If you’re putting your plants in containers outdoors, of course, you can always move them around manually to match the lighting. However, this is time-consuming and only suggested for those who want a hands-on approach with plenty of involvement!
Conclusion: How Much Sun Does a Vegetable Garden Need?
So, how much sun does a vegetable garden need?
Full sun vegetables will grow best in a vegetable garden with plenty of natural light. If you have a shady garden, choose the plants that will thrive there!
It is always wise to plan ahead to determine how much morning sun, hours of direct sunlight, and shade there is on your proposed vegetable garden site.
Will you need to use containers or select specific areas for raised beds? It requires some planning, but remember that local garden stores are a wonderful resource for advice as well as seeds and plants.
Once you have made that determination, growing vegetables will become an easier task, and even a pleasure!
Sun-loving plants grow best in a garden with plenty of natural light. If you have a shady garden, these are the plants that will thrive there! In conclusion, it is important to know how much sun your yard receives so you can choose appropriate plant life for your space. What type of veggies do you think would work well in a shade garden?