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Challenge for next year: Find more sunshine

By Penny Stine

While our gardens are fresh in our memory, I’ve been asking fellow bloggers to write about what worked and what they’ll do differently next year. In my opinion, that’s one of the greatest reasons to garden – knowing that you can try again next year, armed with the knowledge gained from something that was less-than-successful this year.
That being said, the biggest challenge in my garden and my yard is the lack of sunshine. I love the big trees in my 35-year old neighborhood, but the shade wreaks havoc on tomato plants, watermelon and most other sun-loving veggies.
We rototilled a new garden area last spring in hopes of finding a decent amount of sunshine.



We were partially successful, but it’s so hard to know exactly where the sun will hit as it moves not just east to west, but north to south as it gets closer to June and then back again when the days begin to grow shorter.
I thought I picked a good spot, but by September, when I really wanted the late afternoon sun, the neighbor's trees to the northwest and my own house to the east gave me a garden full of shade.

I could burn down my house or be a bad neighbor and chop down the trees in the neighbor's yard in the middle of the night, but I don't think that's a reasonable solution. 

So, what’s a girl gonna do?
Look, there's morning September sunshine in front of my shady new garden:

I've got a great idea. Let’s kill some grass so we can rototill up more front yard next spring!




My husband was grumpy ‘til he realized that the less grass we had, the less time he would have to devote to mowing. Of course, it means more weeding for me, but I’m hoping that using an herbicide on the grass in early October will help it to truly die over the winter so I won’t have to deal with grass growing all over my garden like I did this year. By the end of October, the grass didn't look so good, which was the whole point. 

Half of the new area is way too shady for most veggies, so once again, I’m on the prowl for something that will do well in the shade. I welcome suggestions. Especially since I’ve got an entire new garden area to plan over the winter. At least I'll have something pleasant to dream about when I can't feel my fingers and toes this winter.

Oh, one more lesson learned: make the planting beds in the newest garden a little bigger. I had way too many jungle-like growths in the sunny portions of the garden. 


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