Sunday, August 3, 2008

The benefits of shade

I'm rethinking a bit why the basil sown thickly in a flat near the potting bench is still relatively succulent compared to its brethren in adjoining pots and in the ground. I thought it was the benefits of fluffy potting mix, and richer fertilization, but now I'm thinking it's extremely useful that the flat is in filtered morning and afternoon shade.

I've always thought of basil as a warmth-loving plant (which it is), but maybe the blastingly hot afternoon sun here simply shuts down leaf growth, closing stomata and depressing photosynthesis, and therefore leaf expansion. The plants I transplanted to a container (from the flat) that receive more afternoon sun are looking more and more stressed as the heat wave continues, whereas a single plant in soil that's shaded by beans and in a spot that gets full afternoon sun looks quite nice. Perhaps I'll need to do an experiment! And more investigation about how basil flavors develop, etc., would also be interesting.

Certainly the combination of extreme heat and 10 hours of full sun isn't ideal for many vegetables - here in the South, both plants and the gardener are looking for a respite.


  1. You know, in Italy-- in the Genova area where the pesto we know originates-- they only use the tender early leaves for pesto. I think you're on to something with shading.
    Btw, the ONLY carrots I've sown that are coming up in any numbers are the ones that are practically underneath a row of romano beans. Shade in our harsh climate may be very important.

  2. Interesting... it certainly makes sense to me to only use the tender early leaves!

    I think this summer has been more than harsh on plants and seeds so far -- it's quite off the charts as far as I'm concerned with drought and heat - we're facing our third month without any significant amount of rain (and normal is about 4 inches/month).

    I'd try some later sowings of carrots, too, based on what I've been reading recently (maybe we'll have some rain?) Some recommendations for the South have you basically harvesting carrots in winter, just leaving them in the ground. The wet burlap, boards, and straw treatments covering carrot seeds must just keep the moisture balance reasonable enough to support germination, and the shade of your bean plants gave them an extra boost. It's always an adventure.


Please share your thoughts. I enjoy hearing from fellow nature observers, as well as whomever else drops by.

Related Posts with Thumbnails