What gardener wouldn't like to know exactly how many hours of sunlight a certain plant is getting (if any)? Or what days of the year does the sun actually reach a specific plant? How about whether a bush planted in October in the shade will be in direct sunlight in March? Ever need to know how much tree needs cropped to insure sunlight on a critical spot? The Solar Pathfinder can do all that and more.
Although the Solar Pathfinder (SPF) was originally invented for use in the Solar industry, its quick shading information is perfect for the serious gardener or landscaper. Placing that gorgeous, sun-loving flower in a sun-giving spot has never been so easy. In just seconds the user knows exactly where the sun's path will be at any day of the year, any time of the day. Using the Solar Pathfinder, a creative gardener can plant a shade-loving plant close to a sun-thriving plant with confidence, knowing that neither one will be compromised.
The Solar Pathfinder is ingeniously designed, yet remarkably easy to use. Once the SPF is set up for "true south" using the integral compass, level, and declination adjustment, it is ready to use. The user looks for two things at the same time: the panoramic view of the site reflected on the lens and the sunpath diagram seen through the lens. This combination reveals the shading at that particular spot in just seconds.
Eventually every gardener considers the purchase of a greenhouse. A greenhouse offers the opportunity to enjoy gardening every month of the year. It also represents a considerable commitment in money, time, and space.
Choosing the right site for your greenhouse will not only determine how well it works as a greenhouse, but how much you will enjoy it. One of the most important factors to consider in choosing your site is the availability of sunlight.
If the greenhouse is going to be used primarily for starting seeds and transplants or plant propagation in the summer, place it in partial shade to minimize heat buildup. Deciduous trees may be helpful as they lose their leaves allowing solar gain in the winter while still providing shade in the summer (The problem with overhanging trees is one of falling branches that can damage your greenhouse). You can also use a shade cloth to control the amount of sunlight reaching the interior if a partially shaded site is not available. If the greenhouse will be used for growing in late fall and winter, or growing plants to maturity, it will need maximum exposure to the sun. It should receive a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight everyday. It is best to position the greenhouse with the ends facing east and west. This will provide more heat gain from the sun during the winter and create less shadowing in the greenhouse. If you have to choose between morning sun and afternoon sun, the plants prefer the morning sun to get them off to an early start. If the southern exposure is restricted, but open to the east, southeast, southwest, or west, turn the greenhouse to the winter sun. Remember the difference in sun angles from summer to winter (the sun is much lower in the winter). The Solar Pathfinder will reveal you site's available sunlight. It will show you what days of the year, what time of the day that shading will occur.
Here is a link to a downloadable spreadsheet for use with the Solar Pathfinder in calculating tree cropping.
"I'm excited about my new SPF and Assistant software, which I bought to
remove some of the guesswork from our home landscaping efforts. And I'm
amazed that this tool isn't more prevalent in the gardening world. My wife
the Master Gardener wants to show it off to the other county MG's, some of
whom run garden consulting businesses which could really benefit from it. I
just wish the software had the option of displaying its results directly in
gardening terminology, like "hours of morning sunlight" and "hours of
afternoon sunlight". Jay