Great Tip: How to Tell Which Area of Your Garden Will Get Sunshine in the Fall and Winter

Jim McCausland over at Fresh Dirt has a great tip for determining which area (if any) of your balcony or patio will be sunny during the fall and winter:

Thursday evening, set your alarm for 1 a.m. (If this plan won’t fly with your spouse, drink a couple of glasses of water before you go to bed, and you’ll be up at the appropriate time.) Go outside when the alarm goes off, and you’ll find the full moon floating in almost exactly the same spot the sun will occupy five months from now. Whatever beds get moonlight now will get sunlight then. Whatever beds are shaded by buildings and evergreen trees now will be shaded by the same things in December.

The difference between the sun’s summer and winter tracks is sharp. Today in Seattle, the midday sun is 64° above the horizon. In  late December, it will be only 19° above the horizon. In Los Angeles today, the midday sun is 77° above the horizon, while in December, it will be 33° above the horizon. The difference is what causes such long winter shadows.

This is important advice, because as Jim notes, now is the time to plant fall and winter vegetable seeds, but obviously, those plants will need sunshine a few months from now to do their best.

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