Adding shade in the garden

The front door of our house faces east towards the Pacific Ocean. (A mere 10 miles west!) Our backyard garden sit on the top of an exposed his with full eastern sun.

For three seasons that really isn’t a big deal. In fact, because we can get full sun for about 75% of the garden it means that the other three seasons are great. But right now, in the height of summer sun, with June Gloom giving way to coastal San Diego’s July Fry, our plants are suffering.

In both our tomato patch and where we currently have our melons, the plants obvious grow towards the north fence and away from the full glare of all day sun. Leaves on our cucumbers always look wilted. Once something gets established and can effectively shade itself we are totally fine. But often small plants never thrive.

Today we made a small investment in a fix by adding some shade for the melon patch & the tomatoes.

Here’s my supply list: (All from Home Depot)

  • Tan sun screen (6’x20′ = $31)
  • Garden stakes (9 x 4 feet each = $8.97)
  • Grommets ($7.96)
  • Zip ties (laying around the garage)
  • 2 hooks (also in the garage)

The melon patch is 7 feet wide. I measured 24 inches from the fence and drove the 3 stakes down so 36 inches was out of the soil. I cut the sun shade to length and put 4 grommets across the top, 2 in the middle and 2 on the bottom. Next, I used a level to attach the 4 grommets to the fence securely. I draped the shade from the fence and over the stakes, making a little tent over the top.

It’s a very simple design aimed at just keeping the sun off of them in the heat of the day. While I could stake down the bottom I don’t have it staked right now so I can easily flip the ends up and weed underneath.

For the tomato patch I made it even simpler. I attached it to the fence on the north end draped it over the various bamboo stakes and then attached it to the fence on the other side.

Zip ties were my friend. They made the whole process simple and entirely portable.

The hope is that this solution helps lessen the direct sunlight and helps both the melons and tomatoes beat the heat to a better yield.

We should know in a couple weeks.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

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