Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sun, Semi-Shade, Full Shade

One thing this farm has is lots of shady areas. How to put that land into use has been a learning experience. Not that all land needs to be productive with a crop (in fact, some land needs to be left for wildlife), but aiming to being self supporting pretty much mandates that most contributes something to our support.

I've had the learn about margins, semi shade, full shade, soil moisture, etc., and which plants would grow here or there. It's been quite a journey and I'm not anywhere near the end yet. I'm still learning lots every year. 
(Above, bananas growing on the margin  of the driveway, between shade and sun zones.) 

(Above, a banana growing in speckled shade.)

I've discovered that certain crops actually prefer the margins along wooded areas. Mulberry, mamaki, even citrus and bananas. They are doing much better for me than their siblings planted out in full sun. Of course, fertility, wind protection, and soil moisture may very well have a bearing on this, but I haven't delved that deeply into the reasons. I'm simply doing what works for me. 

Semi shaded spots also support decent crops of pipinolas, lilikoi, chaya, mints, sweet potatoes, and certain taro varieties. Not all of my taros thrive in semi shade. During the summer, especially when things are sparse on the rain, leafy greens produce better in the semi shade. Kale, chard, lettuce, okinawan spinach, New Zealand spinach, etc. I'm still experimenting with crops in semi shade, so there's lots yet to discover.
 (Above, a clump of bananas on a tree in semi-shade.)

Semi shade failures include green beans. The harvest really suffers with less than five hours of good light. Harvest also is reduced with yacon and tomatoes in the semi shade. 

Full shade is more challenging, though most of my spots get at least a hour of good sun sometime or other during the day. Where there is very little sun I plant coffee. Other things that will grow in shaded areas for me include turmeric, ginger, okinawan spinach, ti, and one variety of sweet potato that doesn't object to shade in the slightest. I have one variety of taro that grows well in the shade, but it's a variety I use for livestock fodder, not people food. 
(Above, sweet potato and coffee in full shade.)

Not all my crops are food crops. I purposely cultivate strawberry guava, bamboo, and plants for selling. Plus pasture, of course. I'm just now getting into figuring out where's the best locations for my various plants. Many of the stock plants that I will need for propagation are located in the secret garden or in nooks & crannies. Geraniums. Bromeliads. Various colorful foliage plants. Colorful ti plants. 

When I first started developing this land, I had thought to bulldoze it all. Every square inch would have been full sun. I'm so very glad that I didn't! So now I have all sorts of growing environments and thus the opportunity to grow a diverse amount of plant types. I'm learning how to enjoy this land without destroying it. 
Some of the plants themselves have taught me where they grow best. Above is a pumpkin that I planted along the woods-sun margin. It sends vines out into the shade and sun both, but the sun bathed vines are the ones that produce the most flowers and pumpkins. 

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