Where to plant that fruit tree. Finding sunlight hours in any spot of your garden.
Posted in The Good Life on Sunday, 18th March 2012 at 2:40PM
Spring is in the air and I have recently been faced with an unusual dilemma. Having just moved house we wanted to plant a few fruit trees in quite an irregular shaped garden with numerous potential obstacles between the ground and the sun and I couldn't work where each tree would be best situated to gain maximum sunlight throughout the summer. Having pondered various locations and even planted a couple of the trees I had a flash of inspiration that gave me the precise sunlight hours for any spot of the garden at any point in time.
When I first got an iPhone, one of the first things I installed was a stargazing app that enabled you to see the celestial landscape overlaid onto the real world using the unbuilt camera. This in itself is quite fun for the rare occasions the UK experiences a clear and un-light-polluted sky. I got it out and had a play around, but to be honest the fact that it was possible was the really exciting thing and the novelty soon wore off. But it was was a feature of this app which lets you follow the trajectory of any star / planet / satellite that gave me my solution to the fruit tree conundrum.
Once you've got hold of an iPhone, iPad or any other smartphone / tablet with a similar app installed, first you need to do it position yourself in the garden in the precise location that you think you might want to plant your fruit tree, fire up the app and select the date which you want sun information for. I usually select a time when the plant which I am planting will be fruiting as this is when sunlight will be of prime importance to help with ripening.
Then point the phone to the sky until you see the representation of the sun appear and click it with your finger.
This brings up as visual representation of the sun's trajectory, enabling you to pan the camera around the landscape and see exactly where the sun will be throughout the day. A handy clock tells you the exact time as you move the phone so you can determine precise times of sunrise and sunset and thanks to the real-world layer, you can also see which obstacles may cast shade in-between.
Since finding this solution I am sure my neighbors must be wondering why I spend so long in the garden filming the sky and the poor fruit trees have been planted and then relocated numerous times as I discover an even better spot for them to get established but at least I know they will get the maximum amount of sunlight possible in our garden.