Pick your sun spots

By Jennifer E.Beaver
Columnist

I was never all that fond of beets until I had trouble growing them in my little raised bed garden. Then I wanted them passionately.
I tried seeds. Nice, big, easy-to-handle seeds, properly spaced and watered. The green tops came up perkily enough and then stopped at four inches. When I finally plucked them, there was no beet below. I tried transplants. Same story.
Could it be lack of sun? I stuck seeds in a pot and put it in full sun. And now I have beets…plus plans to put a raised bed in that sunny spot.
When growing vegetables, don’t underestimate the power of the sun. Heat-lovers such as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and zucchini need at least six hours of full sun– preferably more.
But there are a few ways to cheat. Planted next to a white wall, vegetables bask in extra reflected heat and radiance and can get by with less direct sun. And then there are some tomatoes– Stupice, Oregon Spring, Siletz, Black Plum, and almost any tomato with a Russian name– that will bear fruit in lower light conditions. Not shade, mind you, but a little less than six hours of direct sun.
Got partial shade? Grow leafy vegetables and some herbs. Lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, collards, Asian greens like bok choy, plus parsley and mint will all manage in dappled sun.
If you’re confused by terms like “dappled” or “partial” sun/shade, you’re not alone. To find out just how much sun you’re getting, consider a SunCalc. Stick this little device in the ground, and it tells you if you’ve got full or partial sun or full or partial shade. You’ll find it on suncalc.net and amazon.com.
The Wrigley Garden brought food and community to a formerly blighted area of Long Beach (1950 and 1960 Henderson Avenue) but must now make way for a Habitat for Humanity building project. Help garden director Sasha Kanno tidy up on Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to noon June 3 to June 18.
Wondering about that cute little structure near the intersection of Spring Street and Long Beach Boulevard? It’s a convenient little farmers market in the heart of the city! The Spring Street Produce Stand actually sits on Elm about a block east of Long Beach Boulevard. Open Tuesday to Friday afternoons from noon to 7pm and Saturdays from 9am to 3pm, it’s brimming with mouthwatering strawberries and an abundance of fresh, affordable vegetables. It’s part of the Green Jobs Program sponsored by Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP).

Garden Variety

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