Below is an excerpt from our new book, The DIY Backyard Farm Edible Garden Planning Guide. Also, in May we will be doing a product review on the Luster Leaf 1875 Rapitest SunCalc Sunlight Calculator.
“Sun Exposure– generally speaking, I have found that you want to get maximum sunshine on your edible garden throughout the day. You will find most edible plants prefer at least 6 hours of full, direct sunlight each day. I always err on the side of more sun for most of my edible plants. Certain plants like tomatoes and peppers demand even more than 6 hours of sun to produce ripe, delicious produce.
Observe your potential gardening spots and decide which area(s) get the most sun exposure. As you might expect, sun exposure varies based on the time of year. This is not just because the path of the sun changes. For example, if you are observing your yard when the trees are bare then you must consider the impact the trees will have when they are filled with leaves. As you might expect, the most effective sun measurements are taken during the best growing months, generally May – September in most of the USA. If you are measuring sunlight to determine garden location at a different time of year then you should be prepared to make some adjustments come growing season.
Do not let sun tracking drive you crazy though. Just invest enough time and energy into finding which spots of your yard get the most light throughout the day. If you prefer to get a bit more scientific you can use a garden sunlight measuring device to calculate the amount of sunlight that hits a specified area. These devices are generally easy to use and can save you time while potentially improving the accuracy of your sunlight measurements. Even in this case, May – September are still the most accurate sunlight measuring months for determining edible garden locations.
Do not fret if you don’t get tons of sun in your potential growing areas, but don’t try to grow tomatoes in that spot either. There are many edible plants that will do fine in partial sun (approximately 3-6 hours of daily sunlight). Some edible plants even prefer a partial sun environment.
Also, be sure to consult seed packets or your local garden center so you know how much sun is recommended for specific plants. By the way, local garden centers can be a fantastic resource for all home gardeners. I suggest stopping by many of your local garden centers to get a feel for what each offers, how knowledgeable/helpful they are, and if they specialize in edible plant gardening.”