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how much light do various veggies need

Lake Dallas, TX

I wanted to make a garden bed up against this privacy fence. In winter it is a shaded area because sun in lower in the sky. I grow my cool weather crops in the fall/winter due me living in Texas.

I brought my light meter out there to see how much light was in that area. It registered a 6. Out in the sunlight with no shade, it was about 7. Well, that does not help me much. I have no clue what those numbers mean, and how much do various plants need. UG!

It is odd that the area is shaded and in no registering much lower in light levels.

Anyone have any ideas if this sort of shade is ok for root veggies and garden peas?

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I personally would discard the light meter and go by instinct, as veg are after all edible plants, then look at the area in question and ask yourself, would flowering plants be happy there, I know that sort of simplifies things, but peas need to flower before they give you the pods to eat, so in summer, if they get enough light, then they and most veg will be fine, other veg has to be harvested before they flower or they go tough and die after seeding, I would say in your spring/summer weather, you should be OK, the soil will still warm up enough for germination and growing, in fact a little shade in the height of summer is better than too much sunshine as the hot sun can cause the veg plants to bolt (set seed) as they are annuals and want to germinate, grow, flower all in the same season, just keep an eye on the watering, as for things like tomato, peppers and things from the mellon family, they need sunshine on the fruit to ripen, so as long as they get a bit of sunlight, they too will be fine, I would do the trial and error, that way you will know what does good and what to avoid next time around, home grown veg are a cheep. easy way to help bring fresh produce to your table and a lot of fun, if your soil dries out too fast, the next autumn, add loads of animal manure as this feeds the plants and helps retain moisture, you can also grow a lot of veg in large tubs and move them from sun to shade as needed. Good luck. Weenel.

Central Texas, TX(Zone 8b)


I like your idea of adding "loads of animal manure" to retain moisture. I'm currently starting a new garden this year (previous garden area) and any little extra knowledge helps, waterwise.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Dean, I have areas in my own garden that get really dried out, I find that the best help is adding as much compost/ dead vegetation as possible helps, it makes the soil easy to dig, it feeds the plants at the roots and because it is a natural source, it puts nutrients back into otherwise dry soil, dry or sandy soil also cant hold onto moisture as the tiny particles allow the moisture to drain away to fast before the roots have enough time to take up water/moisture, also I always either rake fork slightly or how this soil as it tends to form a crust on the top, so when it does rain or we water it, the hard crust prevents the water penetrating the roots, so the water just sheds of the surface even though we may have stood for an hour watering, most water will just run off the crust. dry soils also need moisture retention to allow the nutrients to be released so the roots, so if our plants are sitting in bone dry soil then the nutrients are trapped in the soil too, I always try to tell new gardeners that if the spent twice as much time preparing the soil before they even bought a plant, then they would save a lot of time/money and effort on watering/feeding there after, but then it is the planting and the flowers/veg that they are desperate to enjoy, forgetting that you get as much out of your garden soil as you put into it in every way, so I love animal manure especially as it adds moisture holding properties ie straw/vegetation etc, and because the animal has already ground all this up for us, all we need do is keep the manure aside for a while till the smell has gone, the acids like urine have washed out and the wait also helps the manure break down even finer, but hey, if you get some fresh, you can add it to the bottom a a trench deep enough that the roots dont go into it, but not too deep they wont reach it in about six months when the manure will be free from strong ammonia's, rotted down and enriched in nutrients, so go gather all the manure you lay your eyes on. good luck. WeeNel.

Central Texas, TX(Zone 8b)


Living where you do I wouldn't think you would have a problem w/ water. Thanks, for the detailed description. I've been adding all the compost I can get. I like the thought of burying the manure and letting the roots grow down to it.

Oologah, OK

I will have to rely on store bought manure/fertilizer. for zone 6- is one better than another? how do you know which to get for veggies and flowers both? there's plenty out there, dont have compost bin built yet, so aren't there some basic types,less expensive, than "do everything" brand names?

Central Texas, TX(Zone 8b)

You might check out the soil and composting forum.

Christiana, TN

I'm new, I came across this site, while searching for gardening ideas I really think it is a nice site. I have had many gardens over the years, but this will be my first year to raise my own tomatoes from seeds. So I do have a question, I have read over some of the starter seeds area, I am going to be starting my seeds inside my house. I will be using lighting but my question is, how many watts does my Florence light need to be? I don't want my babies getting to hot!!!

Thanks harle ( Pam)
I hope this goes through, this is my 3rd time trying :)

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

Hi Pam, welcome to Dave's Garden!

I don't know about how many watts fluorescent lights need to be, just standard bulbs I think. The advice I usually see for tomato seed starting is to use two tubes, one "cool" and one "warm" to provide full-spectrum light. Then, you want to put the lights on a timer to be on for 14 to 16 hours, and then off at night--tomatoes need a good nights' sleep to grow. You want to keep the lights 1 to 2 inches from the tops of the plants if you can.

I hope that helps!

Christiana, TN

Thank you for your reply,
I've been reading on different site's about the seed starting, I think you gave me more information in your reply then I have read in the past week.LOL I didn't know about the cool and the warm, plus I didn't know about the 14 to 16 hours. You see thing is, we have a fluorescent light in our garage. I told my husband that I wanted to use it for my seed starting, well him not having the love for growing things like I do, he said that light will not work because it is a industrial light. Well I told him that we could use a lower watt bulbs in it and it would be fine. Right????? Please tell me I'm right !!!! My husband has nothing to do with gardens, he will turn it up at the first of garden season but thats it !!! He just loves to eat out of the garden.
Thanks again, but please give me another reply and tell me my light will work.

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

I think it should work, Pam, but maybe not quite as well as higher-wattage bulbs. I've got my tomato seedlings under a single 18" under-cabinet fluorescent light in a home-made setup, and they seem to be doing okay. I think the key is to keep it very close to the seedlings, no more than 1 to 2 inches above--but don't let them touch, they'll burn their tender little leaves. The biggest problem I seem to have is just that it doesn't light up a big enough area for everything that I insisted on growing under there, so they tend to lean in toward the bulb.

And, trust me, I understand about non-gardening husbands... :)

Christiana, TN

I should not have any problem with the length, this one is a 4 ft and it holds 2 bulbs. Right now I have 2 of the large Jiffy 72 pellet starter kits to plant my little ones. Oh, I got my seeds today!!! I I want to plant them this Friday, but I doubt I will get to. You see my husband will hold me up on that, until he makes sure that the light is going to be safe, which I understand. To make a long story short, our house burned to the ground about 4 years ago. We had our dog house backed up to back our house just under my daughters bedroom. And we had 5 rottie pups that were only 4 weeks old, which we had a lamp to keep them warm during the cold nights in November. The pups played with the lamp and knocked it down into the straw. The dog house caught on fire and it went up the back of the house and straight into our attic. When the attic goes first, its all gone. This happened about 6:00 in the morning, we all got out ok, including the pups and their mother. They all ran under the storage building and did not come out for a while. So thats why he is concerned and I am too, you made think about it a little more in your first reply about the 14 to 16 hours. But I really think it will be ok, because that are only acting a light and not really heat. My little babies will be all nice and warm inside the house, so they are not going to get cold. I will just make sure that we get a cold one and a warm one, and the watts are just right. Even if this industrial light is not the right type, I will go buy one.!!!!!

Oh, you do know how it is.... :) LOL

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

So glad to hear your whole family came through your fire okay--what a horrible thing to have happen! Fluorescents put out so much less heat than regular light bulbs, and there won't be any active puppies to knock them around, so as long as you put it where it's not touching anything I would think it would be okay.

I would think Friday would be a great day to start! For tomatoes, they don't need light right away. When you plant them, keep them warm (and dark is OK), like on top of your refrigerator or hot water heater. They will probably sprout in maybe 4 to 7 days, depending on the kind of tomato and the temperature. Once you see any sprouting, that's the time to move them to the lights. So if you start on Friday, that would give your DH the weekend to get any lighting issues sorted out, and you'd still have a couple of days before you're likely to need it.

(edited for spelling)

This message was edited Feb 27, 2008 9:14 PM

Christiana, TN

I have more question Please ???? : )
I put my babies in their beds today. I put 2 seeds in each pellet. I was going to set it on top of the frig but I felt up there and it was not even warm at all. I have one of those old sewing machines that you operate it with a foot pedal, it is setting right above my heat vent. So I set the plant tray upon the sewing foot petal so the heat will hit right underneath the tray. Will that work ok?I know that I will have to make sure that they don't dry out from the heat. Once the plants start coming up I need to move them from the warm heat and then put the light above them, right ? I went on and bought 2 of the 24 inch grow lights. I have 2 of the plant starter trays that has 72 pellets in them, will one 24 inch light be enough for each of the trays if I put the light in the center of the tray?
Thanks Pam

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

Sounds like you've got a plan, Pam! As you said, just pay close attention to the pellets drying out, and as soon as you see any little seedlings poking up, move them to the lights. As long as the lights are nice and close, what you have should work fine. You'll know it's not enough light if the seedlings start leaning in towards your lightbulbs, but otherwise I think you're good to go!


Christiana, TN

thanks so much.

North Augusta, SC

Ditto the thanks

Christiana, TN

I just had to let you know, I have little veggie babies. LOL about 6 or so have came up. Friday afternoon is when I planted them and tuesday afternoon I got home and they are already coming up.

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

Yay! I'm so glad to hear they're growing!

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