24 Sep 2012

October 2012 - Vegetable and Herb Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North: What to do now and what's happening

www.plantationhouse.blogspot.com

Octobers bring much promise to gardeners here at 20 degrees North and October 2012 is no exception.  This month ushers in lovely rains, cooler nights and shortening days with falling soil temperatures and visions of carrots, beetroot and parsnips popping through our freshly-composted gardens.  These root crops, along with radish, turnip, kohlrabi and swedes can now be directly sowed into our gardens.  Most importantly, the arrival of October signals that the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is behind us although we must now face the western Caribbean portion of the season.  This is the most dangerous time for persons living in this part of the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico.  Luckily, so far this season we have been blessed as most storms have stayed north.

In our gardens, greens such as bok choi, mizuna and swiss chard lead the charge on lettuce, kale and spinach, which come later on in the season when our temperatures drop further.  The 'great tomato transplant' can now begin in earnest although the danger of heavy rains and the resulting loss of some seedlings will continue well into November.  Irregardless, we should continue as this is but one of the challenges of living in the tropics and sub-tropics.  Other seedlings that can be transplanted during October include, sweet pepper, wong bok, kang kong, florence fennel, cabbage, and cauliflower.  Don’t forget to stick in some marigolds, basil, dill, parsley, thyme, scallions and rosemary to help create diversity of plant types, heights, scents and textures to deter pests and attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees.

The hydroponic project at Plantation Organic Gardens has been re-started with lettuce and new this year is a container gardening project utilising waste containers that we are excited to demonstrate.  This system is very simple but yet very effective with minimal time, effort and money.

Summer 2012 has been brutal with the heat index as high as 117 degrees Fahrenheit and ambient temperatures regularly around the low-to-mid 90s.  Luckily, the rains have been fairly regular throughout July, August and September 2012 and this has helped cool our days.  We had a standing joke at Market at the Grounds this Summer that goes something like this' "it's Saturday, it's market day and the downpours will soon come" as it seems that it rained every Saturday morning for the entire summer.  The mango season has been almost non-existent this year as a combination of early rains and bumper crops last year has had  their impact.  The avocado season has been fair thus far and this has been a blessing for those farmers that rely heavily on these and mango for the majority of their annual incomes.  Other summer fruit such as sweetsop, soursop, guinep, plum and custard apple have been great and a relatively new fruit to Cayman, longan, has been prolific thus far.

The GreenMarket by Plantation Organics located on Shedden Road is now open on Mondays and Wednesdays through Saturdays.  Our Sunday GreenMarket and Open House at Plantation House Gardens continues 2-5pm on Sundays and we continue to attend Market at The Grounds every Saturday.  Our monthly Tasting Event will re-start during the first week of November 2012.

Our annual "Outstanding in the Field" event, partnered with the Cayman Slow Food chapter and The Brasserie Restaurant, will be held on March 9, 2013.  So mark your calendars if you wish.

Until next time, Happy Gardening from our team at Plantation Organic Gardens.

6 Sep 2011

September 2011 - Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North: What to do now and what’s happening

www.plantationhouse.blogspot.com

“What a Heat” was a popular expression used in Cayman during the 1970’s and whilst it was used then to describe other things I do believe that history will forgive us if we used it now to describe our experiences with the weather over the recent 2 or so months here in Cayman. The heat index hovered around 115 degrees Fahrenheit for much of August and it is only the shortening days, recent rains and shifting winds that have helped to lower of temperatures over the past 2 or so weeks. Prior to this, strong westerly flows, upper level shear and oppressive high pressure systems over the NW Caribbean have combined to keep storms north; simultaneously but unfortunately resulting in less rainfall and high temperatures.

The good news is that despite the fact that September signals the peak of our Hurricane season it also signals the beginning of the main vegetable growing season here at Latitude 20 degrees North so it’s time to get those hands dirty. Your vegetable beds should now have a couple inches or so of composted manure and mulch sitting on top, primed and ready to receive the first tomato and sweet pepper seedlings of the on-coming growing season. Putting them in now will give the seedlings some time to strengthen before the heavy rains of October. If you are not ready to plant now I suggest that you wait until the first or second week of November when the heavy rains have died down before you put in more seedlings. This additional time could be utilised to mature any left-over compost and to keep your soil solarisation programme going.

Other crops such as beetroot, radish, carrot, cabbage, Florence fennel, leek, kohlrabi and parsnips should be sowed directly towards the end of September to take advantage of the retreating sunlight caused by the earth’s tilt away from the sun. This brings a general cooling of the soil, conditions necessary for sprouting these vegetable types. If you have no shadehouse covering you should wait until after the late-October heavy rains before sowing as the seedlings will get battered. Don’t forget to stick in some marigolds, basil, thyme, scallions and rosemary to help create diversity of plant types, heights, scents and textures to deter pests and attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees.

At Plantation Organic Gardens, the Malabar Spinach, Swiss Chard, Daikon, Eggplant (Regular, Long and Thai), Pak/Bok Choi, Okra, Rosemary, Basil (sweet, lemon, thai, and purple), Lemon Grass, Mint, Curry Leaf and Pimento Leaf are in abundance now with Corn, Cucumber, Butternut Squash, Sweet Peppers and Tomatoes just around the corner. Seedlings of tomato, sweet pepper, lettuce, cabbage, and many greens are also available for purchase along with many other vegetable and herbs for your cooler season plantings.

Most of the summer’s Mango crop is gone except for a few Lancetilla, Kent and Keitt that sometimes hang on well into November, although there has been some second crops of Nam Doc, Edwards and a couple others. There has been no real Avocado season thus far but it is hoped that the late croppers will do much better. Ackee, Okra, Breadfruit, Black Sapote, Guava, Banana and Plantain are in abundance at the moment with June Plum, Ju Plum, Pumpkin and Longan (second crops) just around the corner.

We have expanded our growing areas significantly since last year adding 2 new growing systems which we will be happy to share during the coming months. At Plantation House the Sunday 2-6pm GreenMarket continues and our next Tasting Event will be held at 5pm on October 3.

Until next time, happy gardening from the team here at Plantation House.

1 Sep 2011

August Tasting Event

On Sunday evening, 7th August 2011, Dr. Joseph Jackman and Mr. Joel Walton hosted their monthly tasting event, this time featuring Kombucha, brewed locally by Elizabeth Chisholm.

What is Kombucha? Sometimes referred to as an “ancient elixir”, put simply, it is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the kombucha ‘scoby’ (symbiotic culture/colony of bacteria and yeast. The result is a refreshing beverage, often likened to sparkling apple cider, which has proven to be an effective metabolic balancer (helping the various organs work together), probiotic (supporting the beneficial bacteria), adaptogen (balancing processes that get out of kilter) and detoxifier. Kombucha has a wide range of organic acids, vitamins and enzymes that give it its extraordinary value.

Having Plantation House and gardens as your venue and back-drop, any event is automatically set up for enjoyment. With between twenty to thirty curious minds in attendance, Dr. Jackman and Joel led with a description of Plantation House, enlightening all eager ears with their eco-friendly farming methods, and information on the multitude of produce and plants available. Elizabeth followed with an overview of what Kombucha is, its numerous benefits and how it is made. This led to, as is the event title J, the tasting.

There were six different flavours on offer:

· Celtic Lychee (Celtic Breakfast & Lychee White Tea)

· Blackberry Lychee (Blackberry herbal tea & Lychee White Tea)

· Exotic Rooibos (South African Rooibos herbal tea & Lychee White Tea)

· Celtic Red (Celtic Breakfast and Vanilla Almond Rooibos tea)

· Bellini Bonanza (Peach Bellini Green Tea & Blackberry herbal tea)

· Ginger Peach Sun (Peach Bellini Green Tea and Decaf Ginger & Lemongrass)

All six flavours were enjoyed by most in attendance, and while the Celtic Lychee proved to be Dr. Jackman’s favourite, it was a tie between the Ginger Peach Sun and the Celtic Red as to which flavour could be bestowed with the ‘favourite’ title.

Suffice it to say, a lovely evening was had by all.

18 Jul 2011

The New GreenMarket

www.plantationhouse.blogspot.com

Plantation Organics will also begin distributing its products through a new and more central GreenMarket, scheduled to open in late-2011.

The GreenMarket will also offer other farmers and back-yard gardeners an additional outlet through which they may choose to distribute their produce regularly throughout the week. Most importantly, the consumer will have additional days available to buy freshly-picked produce and related items such as Plantation House’s fresh juices, herbal teas, and its trademark espresso, cappuccino and cafĂ© con leche.

27 Jun 2011

Monthly Tasting Events at Plantation House

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Plantation House Organic Gardens now hosts a monthly Tasting Event on the first Sunday of each month. The next event will be held on Sunday September 4, 2011 at 5pm.

This is an easy opportunity to taste different produce and their by-products that are in season in a very relaxed and natural setting. Our first 3 tasting events covered mangoes, herbal teas and natural juices. The Jakarta mango scored top marks in the first event, easily beating out Mallika and Graham. The old standby, Peppermint, won the herbal teas blind tasting test hands down and the Java Apple, Star Fruit and Carrot blend narrowly beat out the Pineapple and Ginger Beer blend in the juice event. These events are hosted by Dr. Joseph Jackman and Joel Walton and are free and open to all. Our fourth event, held in August, was Kombucha Tasting - see separate posting report.

Sunday GreenMarket at Plantation House

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The Plantation House Organic Gardens’ Sunday GreenMarket is held 2-6pm every Sunday. This is an opportunity to get freshly-picked produce directly from the field and (in some cases) pick them yourselves, if you wish. Not all that we grow we actually take to market so this also allows you to seek out the more perishable and rare items.

2 May 2011

Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North – May 2011: What to do now and what’s happening.

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“Daddy they keep saying the same thing over and over”, remarked my 4 year old as we drove with Cayman Weather Radio droning in the background. What these reports amount to is that the drought continues and there is no end in sight due to the persistence of high pressure systems over the north-western Caribbean.

As a result, irrigation is now a daily requirement for most of our crops. Even those crops covered by 50 percent shade-cloth such as lettuce, tatsoi and beetroot will wilt to a crisp if you break the watering regimen for a single day. A shocking sight to see is a 20-year old naseberry (sapodilla, nispero) tree shedding leaves due to drought. I smile as I remember that Daddy once said that if you go to a place and you see naseberry trees dying from drought that you should immediately leave that place because nothing will grow there, which was his indirect salute to the amazing drought resistance of this particular species.

Amid these challenges however, the magnificent Mango has made an early appearance at markets and restaurants around the Islands. Whilst the crop size has been severely affected by high winds and drought, the availability of fresh locally-grown mango is most welcomed, regardless. The varieties Carrie, Cogshall, Edwards and Nam doc mai are now in season, with East Indian, Jakarta and Golden Nugget following close behind. Mango will continue to be available through November, depending on the severity of the 2011 hurricane season and rainfall patterns.

At our Gardens, greens such as kale, Swiss chard, tatsoi and mustard, and root crops such as radish and beetroot continue to be available as we gradually shift to warm season crops such as corn, cucumber, watermelon, pumpkin, okra, courgette, and so on. Also available are cut culinary and medicinal herbs such as parsley, rosemary, several types of basil, curry leaf, pimento leaf, lemon grass and aloe vera.

Herb and vegetable plants are also available for planting out immediately, including basil (several types), rosemary, oregano, parsley (both flat and curly leaf), lemon grass, Cuban oregano, eggplant, corn, okra, etc. Also, some fruit trees and some ornamentals continue to be available for purchase.

Garden chores include weeding and some pruning during this “shoulder season” as we wait for the rains to begin before we put in the bulk of our hot, humid rainy season vegetables. Compost cube construction is also a great activity during this time as there is an abundance of un-treated palettes at the hardware/appliances stores as a result of their inventory top-up for the spring/summer shopping season. Four regular sized un-treated palettes fastened together by wood screws is a quick solution and gives you roughly the 1-cubic foot interior volume that is considered ideal for composting.

Our 2-6pm Sunday Afternoon Garden Market at Plantation House is becoming increasingly popular and we are most thankful for this support. This also allows us the opportunity to show our visitors first hand where their food comes from as it is often picked straight from the field upon request. From this interaction, our people also get to hear directly what is important to you as a consumer of our produce and this is most welcomed.

Until next time, happy gardening from the team here at Plantation House.

29 Mar 2011

Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North – April 2011: What to do now and what’s happening

www.plantationhouse.blogspot.com

North-easterly winds 15 to 25 knots associated with a high pressure system over the eastern US are expected to continue over the Cayman area for the next 24 hours… 20% chance of scattered showers, rough seas over open waters, and so on… the Cayman area weather report read like a script during most of March … high winds, rough seas, little or zero rainfall and no end in sight… until March 24 when there were some showers in George Town with the winds shifting to the SE bringing with it higher temperatures. Salt spray smothered everything and the high winds dried out the irrigation water as quickly as you put it on. These winds also blew off the majority of the wonderful mango blossoms and juvenile fruit and, with the un-solicited help of our national bird, the vast majority of our mango crop is now gone.

The main positive thus far in 2011 is that our days and nights continue to be un-seasonably cooler and this is good news for cooler season vegetable growing.

Amidst all of this we did pick our first peaches of the season. I gave my youngest the very first but she promptly said, “daddy, put it up for later” which was her way of saying I really don’t want that but I also don’t want to hurt your feeling daddy. I then did what all parents should do, I promptly ate it!! Maybe I heard what I wanted to hear, maybe not – LOL!! There are more to come so she will get her share if she wants. We will continue to test peaches at our Gardens with a view to making plants available in a couple of years to persons who may be interested.

Irrigation is now a daily requirement for most of our shallow-rooted crops and most vegetable plants will now need some additional nutrition to help along the remaining crops. Blood meal will keep the leafy crops such as bokchoy and Swiss chard going nicely whilst bone meal and a mixture of seaweed and fish emulsion will help your tomatoes and peppers to smile. Straight bone meal cultivated in gently around the roots of beet and radish will boost their productivity.

Weeding should be kept high on your “to do list” during April to avoid complete chaos when the rains begin. April is also a good time to clean your garden and tool sheds and get your last minute pruning out of the way before your fruit and ornamental trees start growing again in earnest.

There are minimal pests around this time of the year for organic gardeners to contend with as an abundance of ladybugs and other predators combined with the cooler and drier weather has continued to keep most of the whitefly and aphids in check with minimal intervention, although there is an abundance of caterpillars and baby chickens about.

Our resident agoutis brought off a lovely pair of young ones during March and these are often seen playing in the backyard even with much human activity all around them. The iguanas have somewhat subsided but lunch time searches around the Gardens will often times dredge up one or two.

At our Gardens, there is an abundance of greens such as kale, Swiss chard, bokchoy, tatsoy, wong bok and mustard, and root crops such as radish and beet. There is also a wide array of cut culinary and medicinal herbs such as dill, parsley, rosemary, several types of basil, curry leaf, pimento leaf and lemon grass and aloe vera.

Herb and vegetable plants are also available for planting out immediately, including basil (5 types), cilantro, dill, parsley (both flat and curly leaf), lemon grass, Cuban oregano, Cayman seasoning pepper, scotch bonnet, eggplant, corn, okra, etc. Also, a wide range of fruit trees and some ornamentals continue to be available for purchase.

Until next time, happy gardening from the team here at Plantation House.

25 Feb 2011

Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North – March 2011: What to do now

March is hump month, the beginning of the second half of the vegetable growing season for cooler season crops and for tomatoes at latitude 20 degrees north. The Gardens at Plantation House look somewhat ragged as harvesting has created gaps throughout. The advancing sun brings longer and hotter days and shorter and warmer nights as we move into spring 2011 in the northern hemisphere, ushered in by a full moon in perigee on March 20.

In general, the main 2010/11 vegetable growing season has been good thus far despite the almost complete absence of rainfall. This, when combined with the persistent strong drying winds we have been experiencing, has warranted almost daily irrigation in order to keep our crops going. On the positive side however, our nights remain relatively cool thereby allowing our tomato plants to continue to flower and daytime temperatures also remain low enough which helps the new buds to stay on during the days after flowering. You should therefore expect to see local tomatoes on sale until well into the springtime, maybe as late as June.

With March being the “hump month” we are left guessing whether or not to put in more cool weather lovers like lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, turnip or to stick in second crops of the intermediates like beetroot, beans, corn and cucumber or to make a complete jump to heat lovers like okra, pumpkin and sweet potato. My guess is that we go for the intermediates as the weather seems to be playing fairer than normal thus far as have the lower than normal pest levels in our gardens.

At Plantation House the tomatoes, Florence fennel, Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, lettuce, mustard green, kohlrabi, radish, sweet pepper, pak (bok) choi, tatsoi, papaya, rosemary, basil (sweet, Thai, and purple), lemon grass, curry leaf and pimento leaf are in abundance now with corn, cucumber, courgette, cabbage, sprouting broccoli, expected to begin maturing during March and April.

As for fruit, the mango blooms have arrived 4-6 weeks earlier this season and you should expect to get tree-ripened fruit by as early as April. This is un-usual considering that May/June is normally when locally grown mangoes hit the shelves. Papaya, breadfruit, passion fruit, longan, rollinia (biriba), and custard apple (anon), sugar apple (sweetsop), bilimbi, guava, botler, naseberry (sapodilla), banana and plantain are also available at the moment. In addition, star-apple (caimito), java apple (white and red), java plum (white and sweet), grumichama, cherry of the rio grande, pitomba, camu-camu and jaboticaba are in bloom.

During the cooler months we do most of our pruning of the fruit, nut and spice trees, and ornamentals and 20 or so grapevines at Plantation House. This is the best time as most trees do grow slower (or become dormant) during the cooler months and there is less humidity around to promote fungal infection of the pruning cuts. All in all, pruning should be encouraged more in home gardens as it helps maintain better tree form, keeps fruit within reasonable picking heights and generally results in a healthier and more productive plant.

Another chore for this time of year is the harvesting of our mature compost cubes. We have 16 or so of these cubes around our gardens. These are simply made from four un-treated palettes screwed together. Into the cubes we throw our green waste and let it rot down on its own with the help of the many worms and the like that naturally will show up, but without turning, wetting or the addition of compost activators.

Until next time, happy gardening from all of us at Plantation House Organic Gardens here in Cayman.

25 Jan 2011

Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North – February 2011: What to do now and what’s happening

February is here and the vegetable growing season for “cooler season” crops such as beetroot, sweet pepper and lettuce is about at its mid-point. Also, locally-grown vine-ripened tomatoes are starting to hit the shelves and the Saturday morning Market at the Grounds in Lower Valley is a hive of activity.

Thus far, the 2010-11 season has been relatively very cool (by Cayman standards) with the exception of the mid two weeks of January when some day-time temperatures rose to the mid-to-upper 80’s with night time temperatures holding in the low-to-mid 70’s.

Some December 2010 nights, however, saw temps fall to the upper-50’s in our garden with day time highs barely reaching the low-70s. These temperatures did wonders for the growth of our Florence fennel, kale, and chard and promoted heavy tomato blooms. The downside to this cooler weather and high winds is the almost complete absence of rainfall as we seem to be heading into our driest “dry season” in many years.

Irrigation is now a daily requirement for most of our shallow-rooted crops and most vegetable plants will also now need some mid-season nutrition. Blood meal will keep the leafy crops like lettuce and cabbage going nicely whilst bone meal and a mixture of seaweed and fish emulsion will help your tomatoes and peppers to smile. Straight bone meal cultivated in gently around the roots of beet, radish and carrot will boost their productivity. There are minimal pests at this time for most organic gardeners to contend with as an abundance of ladybugs combined with the cooler weather and high winds has kept most of the whitefly and aphids in check with minimal Neem Oil required on peppers every 4-6 weeks, or so.

At Plantation House Organic Gardens there is an abundance of radish, daikon, breadfruit, tomatoes, eggplant, beetroot, kohlrabi, Florence fennel, sweet pepper, pak/bok choi, tatsoi, some fruit and a wide array of cut culinary and medicinal herbs. Also, crops such as sprouting broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard are just around the corner. All our mango trees (except East Indian and Mallika) are now in full bloom, some with the most amazing 18” flower spikes along with our peach, camu camu, cherry of the rio grande, and java apple trees, just to name a few.

Many herb plants are now available for planting out immediately, including basil (5 types), cilantro, dill, parsley (both flat and curly leaf), lemon grass, Cuban oregano (3 types), Cayman seasoning pepper (also called aji dulce, rocotillo, cachuca), scotch bonnet, cumin, etc. A wide range of fruit trees and some ornamentals continue to be available for purchase.

Until next time, Happy gardening from all of us here at Plantation House.

3 Sep 2010

Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North – September 2010: What to do now

By www.plantationhouse.blogspot.com

September is here and officially the vegetable growing season for cooler season crops and for tomatoes begins in earnest at latitude 20 degrees north. See our earlier e-article entitled “Vegetable Gardening at Latitude 20 Degrees North: Thinking Upside Down” for tips on how to navigate the conditions on tropical/sub-tropical islands.

This time is welcome reprieve for those who refuse to buy those mushy, gas-ripened tomato imports found in local supermarkets. Possibly, late-June was the last time that you tasted a tomato unless we travelled and had the opportunity to eat plump, sun-ripened tomatoes in other countries.

This summer in Cayman has been un-seasonably cooler than normal except for the last 2 or so weeks of August when the normal day-time highs have been between 94 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Even so, night-time temperatures have not consistently stayed in the 80’as they normally do during the months of August and September. This cooling, combined with the absence of hurricanes and an un-usually wetter than normal rainy season thus far, has allowed Plantation House Organic Gardens to grow cooler season crops such as beetroot, carrot and radish alongside warmer season crops like corn, okra, pumpkin (calabaza) and watermelon.

Notwithstanding this year’s special season, your vegetable beds should now have a couple or so inches of composted manure and mulch sitting on top, primed and ready for those first tomato and sweet pepper seedlings of the on-coming growing season. This will give the seedlings some time to strengthen before the heavy rains of October. If you are not ready to plant now I suggest that you wait until the first or second week of November when the heavy rains have died down before you put in more seedlings.

Other crops such as beetroot, carrot, cabbage, florence fennel, leek, kohlrabi and parsnips should be sowed directly towards the end of September to take advantage of the southward retreating sun which brings a general cooling of the soil, conditions necessary for sprouting these vegetable types. In addition, you will avoid the late-October heavy rains battering the seedlings. Don’t forget to stick in some marigolds, basil, thyme, scallions and rosemary to help create diversity, deter pests and attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees.

At Plantation House Organic Gardens the Radish, Sweet Pepper, Pak Choi, Watermelon, Pumpkin, Okra, Rosemary, Basil (sweet, lemon, thai, and purple), Lemon Grass, Mint, Curry Leaf and Pimento Leaf are in abundance now with Corn, Cucumber, Butternut Squash and Courgette just around the corner. Hybrid tomato and sweet pepper seedlings are available along with many other vegetable and herbs for you cooler season plantings.

Most of the summer’s Mango crop is gone except for a few Lancetilla, Kent and Keitt that sometimes hang on well into November. There has been no real Avocado season thus far but it is hoped that the late croppers will do much better. Mamey Sapote, Yellow Sapote, Black Sapote, Green Sapote, Guava, Carambola/Starfruit, Bilimbi, Banana and Plantain are in abundance at the moment with Ackee, Breadfruit, June Plum, Ju Plum, Java Apple, Java Plum and Longan just around the corner.

Happy gardening!

25 May 2010

How Much Shade is Too Much? Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Tropical to near Sub-tropical Lowlands

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Tropical to near sub-tropical lowland climatic conditions such as that of Cayman not only offers an endless palette of year-round growing opportunities but it also produces two distinct growing seasons. These seasons may be classified as the cooler and drier season (November – April) and the hot and humid rainy season (May –October).

Cayman enjoys 300+ days of sunshine annually and reflected sunlight (particularly from driveways, terraces and houses) often times create micro-conditions whereby shady spots can be converted into vegetable and herb gardens for specific plants.

The dappled shade of tall trees also provide similar conditions around the tree bases that may be used for edible gardening instead of the obligatory impatiens, vincas, and calendulas that many landscaping companies quite readily offer up.

Such is gardening that general rules are always tempting to offer but hard to defend. Nonetheless, as a practical gardener, I am always seeking out rules to live by and rule to break, so here goes….

3 General Rules for Sunlight:

1. Vegetables that produce flower and fruit such as tomatoes and eggplant require full sun. Full sun is defined as greater than 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Please note however that ‘ultra-tropical’ root-crop such as yam and cassava and Mediterranean leafy herbs such as rosemary and sage are notable exceptions.

2. Vegetables that produce root-crop such as beetroot and turnip can get by with 3-4 hours of direct sun daily. Actually, in our conditions they prefer dappled mid-day and afternoon shade.

3. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce and swiss chard are happy with 2-3 hours of daily sunlight (preferably morning sun).

Flower and Fruit:  Tomato, Tomatillo, Cape Gooseberry, Eggplant, Melon, Pumpkin, Corn, Okra, Cucumber, Papaya (yes, it’s a herb and so are) Plantain, Banana and Botler, Squash/Zucchini/Courgette, Cassava, Yam, Sweet Potato, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Oregano, Marjoram.

Root-crop:  Beetroot, Radish, Carrot, Turnip, Parsnip, Onion, Spring Onion, Leek.

Leafy:  Lettuce, Swiss Chard/Leaf Beet, Arugula/Rocket, Spinach, Pak Choi, Bok Choi, Chinese Cabbage, Kale, Kohlrabi, Florence Fennel, Broccoli, Cabbage, Coco/Malanga/Taro, Parsley, Mustard Greens, Mint, Parsley, Celery, Culantro, Cilantro, Strawberry, Pea, Bush Bean.

Of course, for every set of general rules there are a set of caveats and every gardener will move to his/her own beat. Nonetheless, these generalisations might help those gardeners to get started who might not know what to plant where because they don’t know how much shade is too much.

Happy Gardening!
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