Our neighbors' giant maple trees continue to encroach on our view of the
sky and the sunniest parts of our garden now get only about 2 or 3 hours
of direct sun during the summer. With the economy the way it is, they're
not interested in any serious pruning for a while. Other than a
fortuitous windstorm or maple blight, we're probably stuck this way for
The growing season in Minnesota is short enough without this additional
Can artificial light speed up the ripening of outdoor tomatoes? Can it
be done without us ending up with tomatoes at $10/each?
We only have 3 plants, which used to be enough; two "early" varieties
and one conventional. One of the early plants will have some fruit ready
this coming week, but September is coming fast.
I see Web sites selling all sorts of lighting systems, but I'd like to
hear from people who aren't trying to sell me anything.
Bert Hyman St. Paul, MN email@example.com
With the cost of the lights and the power to run them it hardly seems worth
it to me.
How about this (I am making this up as I go along, never tried it) Could
the light intensity be enhanced cheaply with mirrors? I am thinking of an
arrangement on the three sides not facing the sun that would reflect on to
the plants. Maybe even a curved panel behind the plants. Not glass which
is always expensive but aluminium foil laid over (say) cardboard or whatever
is laying about. Or maybe thick plastic sheet like used for real estate
signs (called coreflute here) painted with silver paint. It would cost very
little and last long enough to find out if something more permanent is
A bit late for this but it may trigger a thought or two for the OP.
I would bet a diffused light would be better than concentrated, esp.
with a curved surface (shades of tomato sauce on the vine).
The best thing that could be done is to open a slot by cutting off the
limbs at, or beyond the property line.
I'm doing that right now to limit certain certain trees' drip line and
root system and keep as much shade as possible off a couple of gardens
and two apple trees (and to forestall an early snowfall like we had two
years ago taking down trees and power lines).
Memories:) Back in the seventies, my high school days, there was a
project in the Scientific American magazine for making a parabolic dish
for focusing and burning an object. Many art stores sell large sheets of
foil backed cardboard. I cut the cardboard out and made my dish and used
a fine plastic spray from a can that water proofed the cardboard dish.
At night I could put a mike in the center of the dish and hear people
talk at least half a mile away. Set sticks on fire when placed in the
sun. Scientific American Magazine was much better then than now. Today
with internet based news, many of their articles are just junky and
dated before the ink dries. Dish was six feet in diameter and Cost about
I made a similar dish as a solar cook in fifth grade, around 1968. It's
very hard to get the foil smooth enough to get the focus sharp enough to
use in cooking or to make fires but I did eat a meal cooked on it.
That's what we do as well, but for a different reason, rain. Here in
the PNW we get quite a bit of rain so we put our pots on our 2nd floor
deck (off the kitchen). It faces South and gets plenty of sun, plus
when it's going to rain, we just slide them under the eve and they
stay dry. The only cost is we have to pay closer attention to
watering. The pay off is it's only three steps from the plants to the
salad bowl ; )
On 08/08/10 11:02 AM, sometime in the recent past Bert Hyman posted this:
I read a book with the title 'Ancient Lights.' It was a strange book, to be
sure, but it talked about English common law and about not cutting off one's
access to the sun. But if the law can't help, and you do use lights, does
you neighbor have any outdoor outlets on your side of his house? :)
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