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Any place to mount a few mirrors to reflect light into your shady spots? Might be cheaper than removing the trees...

Next year, try putting the pole beans against the western fence and the tomatoes on the bamboo trellises in the middle of the plot, running east-west. For now, see if you can find some Color-up to lay beneath your tomatoes, for a ripening boost.

My big issue is wind; if I put up a barrier to protect my bed, it blocks some of the best sunlight.

I'm surprised you can grow anything under those Norway spruces!

Keep the trees, buy vegetables at the closest farmers market! It is impossible to replace the ecological value of large trees like that. You are fortunate to have them. Remember, they offer year round benefit and beauty unlike a veg garden!


I'd remove two of six, and the least spectacular.

But I'm not sure that the ecological value of trees versus vegetable garden is so easy to calculate.

My vegetable garden allows me to opt out of the agro-industrial complex to a very large extent and keeps me out of the car.

May be you can trim down your clematis.It makes a good ornament if contained in a 2sqft area on the ground with no support.Also see if it is possible to trim the branches of the trees in the background.Try tomato climbers rather than plants.

We got the light in Phoenix, keeping the soil moist enough is our problem here...tricky tricky!

I feel your pain, though mine has come on gradually. When we bought our current home, the neighboring trees were small & I sadly misjudged their growth rate & eventual size. My once sunny, productive garden is now shaded far too much during the summer. Tomatoes stand very little chance of ripening, especially when the exceptionally cool summer is taken into account. And this is already the sunniest part of the yard.

The "up" side ? In my climate, a winter veggie garden is actually possible, so my collards & brussels sprouts & cabbage & carrots & salsify can be grown in leaf-off conditions. Oddly, my winter garden (at least the half not shaded by the house) gets more hours of sun than my summer garden !

Shame tree's can't just, y'know... MOVE, right? Two birds with one stone!

Although, it's a hard choice. An easy answer, which I also agree with, is @Lisa: "Keep the trees, buy vegetables at the closest farmers market!"

Maybe some more careful sorting of what can go where. Aparagus and some berries will do well in some shade. Grapes, will put out too scampering over whatever. Maybe tomatoes in pots someplace is the way to go. I'm always surprised where I can tuck in carrots and lettuce and some other greens. Trade with the gardener that can gro other things.

Part two - Michele - as much as some are advising you to just buy at the farmer's market, I understand your reluctance, too. After a long day of whatever, it's great to go out to the garden & pick your dinner. Markets are great ... but not quite the same.

This is crazy, but try mulching with tinfoil.

...I know how it sounds. But it reflects light back up onto the seedlings, and in situations that have ALMOST enough light, particularly on crops like lettuce and chard and whatnot, it can make the difference. It's not a long-term solution, but for early spring and fall?

After 4 years of trying to grow vegetables in only 4-5 hours of afternoon sun (in the DC area) I finally admit that it's just not possible to have a robust garden under those conditions. I'm intrigued by Marla's mirror idea though. Is that actually successful?

And Michele, I agree with your observations on the value of saving those trees: "...I'm not sure that the ecological value of trees versus vegetable garden is so easy to calculate." Ever since you, Elizabeth (in a Mar 5, 2008 Garden Rant post), and your husband Jeff (in his RStone articles) introduced me to the writings of scientist James Lovelock, I have an entirely new way of looking at ... well, at pretty much everything having to do with the planet and what's "good" for it. I'm currently wending my way through "The Vanishing Face of Gaia." A great read, if you don't mind heart-stopping predictions about the near future, and a harsh dose of reality about the limits of human abilities. (And let's not forget the heel-dragging of governments.) Lovelock always seems so cheerful about it all though, so matter of fact, almost reassuring--well he is 93 so what does he care? I'm so ga-ga over him that I've managed to make a handful of friends and relatives order me to stop talking about him.

I can attest to that last statement by Pam - coz I'm one of the friends/family who've ordered her to stop talking about that Lovelock guy and his DIRE predictions.

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