Partial Shade:
Its Vital Role in Organic Vegetable Gardening

Why does partial shade play an important role in organic vegetable gardening? And how can such shade be done? And is it really vital for your produce to grow? The exposure to sun and its need to be in shade still depends upon what plant you want as produce. Studying all about the plant and its needs first will lead to a better harvest.

Partial Shade - You may know that a plant needs soil, sun and water to be able to survive. But you must also be aware that it needs shade, especially vegetables to protect it as a plant but also for it to produce a good harvest.

In organic vegetable gardening, exposing the plants to a range of 30 to 50 percent shade can actually lower the leaves' temperature by about 10 percent or even more. For the northern and coastal climates, 30 percent shade is recommendable while 47 to 50 percent for hot and summer-like places.

Follow these guidelines and vegetables like lettuce, arugula, mustard greens and mesclun mix will produce better qualities.

The shade also lessens the temperature of the soil by three to six degrees Fahrenheit. This will benefit vegetables such as cabbages, mustard greens, broccoli, chard, radishes, turnips and spinach that grow in the soil. They will germinate better when the soil temperature is below 80 degrees F.

Shade Tent - You can also provide your plants with handmade tents. This will be most beneficial if you have a large garden area and you can't attend to each plant by placing cloth as shade at top of each one.

To do a shade tent, use sturdy plastic tubing about 1/2 or 3/4-inch in diameter. Cut this tubing into 6-foot lengths and bend above the plants just enough for it to arch a foot high. For each arch that you've made, place bamboo or wooden stakes at an angle pointing in toward your plants, each one at about 18 inches apart. Put these in the ground at the sides of the plants' bed until about 10 inches of each of the stakes is visible. Now you can bow your tubing by sliding its ends over the ends of the stakes.

Now place a shade cloth over the arches for it to cover the plants' bed. Make sure to clip the cloth at the tubing so that it will remain in place.

Remember, if partial shade is not readily available when organic vegetable gardening, this is one method you can try.