I grow veg in southern England, starting from seed in a south-east-facing windowsill. I already use a heated propagator for my seeds as my house isn't very warm in early spring.

The garden has mature oak trees and a hedgerow along the south east edge, so by mid summer is fairly shady, though most gets some full sun each sunny day. The other side of the hedge is fields, as we're on the edge of a village.

The same trees, even when bare, partially shade my windowsill, and everything seems to get off to a very slow start.

Thinking particularly of tomatoes, chillies, and aubergines, my annual veg, whether grown outdoors, in a lean-to greenhouse, or kept in the kitchen, is several weeks behind a garden about 300 metres away. That gets more sun, and being a couple of streets into the village may be a little warmer. Neither of us is a heavy user of fertilisers. Even the wild blackberries in my hedge are behind those nearby.

I can give the hedge and the lower branches of the oaks a little trim, but even if I wanted to, couldn't make major changes - they're not mine, and they're protected. I also like having the shade on the house when the weather gets hot.

I'm considering grow lights to accelerate my seedlings next year. Will the boost early in the season be maintained later into the year, or is it not worthwhile?

  • You might want to look into an allotment with less shade. Given tress shadingit you can't and don't really want to cut, the garden being behind others with more sun is just normal...
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 1, 2023 at 12:25
  • @Ecnerwal nice idea, but I don't have that kind of time (even for a half plot, with travel there). OTOH maybe I should put in for one now - by the time I reach the top of the waiting list I'll probably be retired! The nearby garden is also pretty shady, but less so.
    – Chris H
    Aug 1, 2023 at 14:45
  • I also get good crops of raspberries, potatoes, plums and apples here, and grapes out the front on the porch - nominally NW-facing but sunnier than that implies. So I'm moving my strawberry pots to the front. Maybe some tomatoes next year too
    – Chris H
    Aug 1, 2023 at 14:48
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    I'm very interested in this, as I also have a shady garden to sit in as I watch my neighbors' plants outpace mine. I use grow lights to give my plants an early start in late winter which helps quite a bit, but I've never supplemented the light after I move them outdoors. Removing a hedge and making your fence more reflective sound like good moves.
    – MackM
    Aug 8, 2023 at 15:29
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    @MackM it's a shame I don't have the space for a proper experiment with multiple plants of the same variety in each of several groups, each group with different conditions. I'll certainly try some quite bright but diffuse white LEDs I've got from something else for my seedlings - I reckon they'll be something like 4x as bright as indirect daylight, and the spectrum looks OK. I'll probably be able to use those for windowsill chillies or tomatoes, 2 or 3 plants total, until they get too big
    – Chris H
    Aug 8, 2023 at 18:40


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