Where & How to Place Your Vegetable Garden Beds: Maximizing the Sun on Your Homestead

Where & How to Place Your Vegetable Garden Beds: Maximizing the Sun on Your Homestead

Vegetables need 4 to 8 hours of direct sun. It is important to know how much sun falls onto your proposed areas for garden beds. The best way to accomplish this is to track the sun's movement across your homestead.

On a sunny day go out into your yard at 8 A.M., 10 A.M., 12 P.M., 2 P.M. and 4 P.M. and take notes on the parts of your yard that are getting direct sun.  If the sun is hitting your proposed garden spots, jot down the estimated amount of time the direct sun is on the garden bed during those time frames. You don't need continuous sun for 4-8 hours on a specific bed. It can be additive. You just need to accurately total the amount of direct sun that falls on your garden beds over the day. You can watch this video below for full details on how to do this.

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You typically want to pick the part of your homestead that gets southern sun exposure. If that is unavailable due to shade, try the western area of your yard. The sun rises in the east and settles in the west. Use a compass from a smart phone application or purchase a standard compass to help you understand how the sun tracks across your yard.


The sun is lower in the winter, so shadows are longer. You can take into account that the sun will be higher in the spring and summer, if your are planning out your garden in winter. This means you will get more sun. If you are doing this early or late spring, your total sun hours should be pretty accurate. And of course take into account trees don't have leaves in the winter. You want to to make sure you are tracking direct sun, where there are no shadows. Areas that get 4-6 hours are great for many standard vegetables and varieties that need less light. Areas that get 6-8 hours are great for high sun crops like corn, tomatoes, peppers and squash.

Looking at the above space you can see full sun areas and areas with shadows. Count the areas that are shadow free. You can take a look from a higher window to help make your assessment. You can also go online and look at satellite pictures of your homestead address. This often gives you photos from the summer.

Spending a day tracking the sun and identifying how much sun falls on your proposed garden beds is well worth your time. It will allow you to maximize the direct sun that falls on your homestead and plan what crops will go where in your gardens.
Good Luck,
Gary (The Rusted Garden)
By Gary Pilarchik   January 7, 2019

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