Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tiny Tip: More Sunlight in Your Garden


Okay, this is an old familiar gardening trick. But as with all old familiar things, it's bound to be new to someone. Sunlight, water, and good soil are the fundamentals of growing productive and healthy plants. A few people are blessed with just the right amount of all of these. Others have to struggle a bit to get enough or to moderate an abundance of one or the other. If you're trying to grow in an area that gets less sun than is ideal, here's an easy partial fix.

Take those automobile sunshades that were all the rage a few years back, and put them at the end of your garden that faces the sun. This will reflect whatever light you do get back to your garden, so the plants have two chances to make use of any sunlight that comes their way. If you're in the northern hemisphere, position the screen at the north end of your garden, with the reflector facing south. In the southern hemisphere, put it at the south end of your garden, facing north.

These things were turning up at yardsales for next to nothing for a while there. Not sure if they are anymore. If you can't turn one up for a few cents, you could always make your own reflector with aluminum foil and a few pieces of cardboard. Be sure to leave the shinier side of the foil facing out if you do so. And if you happen to have any large unwanted mirrors hanging out in the garage, those would work best of all. Tomato plants, incidentally, love these things. I suspect tomatoes would actually be happiest growing in a tanning bed that was turned on 24/7.

Got any oldie but goodie garden tips? Share them in the comments, please!

16 comments:

Jennifer Suarez said...

Great tip!

Chile said...

That is a good tip. Another good use for mirrors is reflecting candle or lantern light when the power goes out.

Kate said...

Thanks, Jennifer.

Chile, good point. When they could afford it, they used little mirror rings just above each candle on a chandelier in the old days, if I'm not mistaken.

Wendy said...

Great idea! We bought a bunch of 12" sq mirrors a couple of years ago (long story), and I have been wondering what we could do with them. What a good idea to extend the sunlight in my back garden :).

Green Bean said...

Now THAT is a great idea. Never thought about it, or about altering how much sun an area gets. I've usually just given up and planted elsewhere. I feel some more veggies growing in the backyard next year!

Kate said...

Wendy, this would be a great use for those mirrors. I try to keep my ears open whenever someone talks about remodeling a bathroom too. You never know what useful stuff people will throw away.

Greenbean, see? I knew this old trick would be new to some folks. Thanks for making me feel good about sharing it!

Nitya said...

Birds can fly into mirrors and get injured/die (like they do with some windows). For windows people recommend putting a screen of chicken wire several inches in front of them to prevent that so I imagine that would work for mirrors too.

Kate said...

Good point, Nitya. Thanks for suggesting the easy fix. I don't think the sun reflector shades for the cars would be as attractive to birds. And even if they did confuse the birds, the one I have is soft and padded. So they shouldn't take much damage from a collision.

Chile said...

The mirrors would cause more of a problem than the auto-shades because the latter diffusely reflect the light. Mirrors reflect the images of plants so birds would try to fly towards them and smack into it.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

Never would have thought of that myself. Makes perfect sense, but I just wouldn't have thought of it.

Kate said...

THM, glad to pass along the trick.

Momma Pajama said...

I love it! Thanks for the "oldie but goodie" tip - I'd never heard of it! My garden is on the north side of my house and sunshine is at a premium, so I will start looking for those sunshades and mirrors ASAP!

Kate said...

MP, glad to be of service!

Laura said...

Now that is a great idea! I never would have thought of that. Too bad I have no clue where our old sun screen thingey disappeared too...

Anonymous said...

I ran across this site when searching sun reflectors because of the mass amounts of old cds and dvds that we've collected to "make something with". When I realized that our garden could benefit, my wheels stared turning. I thought about gluing them onto something flat then I saw that I could tie them together and let them hang and rotate, like small mirrors strung together like chimes. Finally, I don't have to save them anymore! And, they benefit our garden. Win/win. :*)

Anonymous said...

Great Idea. I had a particularly dark garden. I contacted www.garden-mirrors.co.uk and they gave me free of charge a number of small off cuts of acrylic mirror sheet. I cut these up, mounted to a board as a picture of a bird in flight. It now hangs on my garden fence and is the talking point when friends visit. Looks fantastic - cost me nothing other than my time. I love your website - keep up the good work. Sarah.