Growing outdoors for beginners. Fruit-bearing plants flower for a much longer time than they grow. Most of the plant’s energy goes towards the forming of reproductive parts: flowers and fruits. So, when does flowering start?
The most important condition for the start of the flowering phase is the amount of daylight the plant receives. A plant grows best if it gets lots of daylight. They get the most around the longest day of the year, on the 21st of June. Around this time, your plants will get 16 hours of light every day. After that, the days will shorten. Once the days become shorter than 14 hours around the middle of August, your plants start to change. They detect that summer is reaching its end. Time to create a new generation of plants! In the longer nights, plants start to generate flowering hormones, which signal that it’s time to bloom.
If you’re growing on the natural day-night cycle, it can take some patience for flowering to start. But you can use a trick from indoor growers to encourage blooming: blacking out the plant. Effectively, you limit the amount of daylight, which tricks the plant into thinking that the days are shortening. You can imagine that blacking out is more difficult outdoors than indoors. Here are a couple of tips:
Do you have a dark shed? Put your plants in there before sunset to make the nights longer.
No shed? Build a small cover from planks and lightproof plastic sheets. You can put your plants under this.
No room in your yard? Maybe you’re growing on a balcony? Make a sort of funnel shaped bag out of lightproof plastic sheet. Pinch the top shut with clothespins. Put this over a plant to black it out for a few hours until sunset.
Careful! It can get hot under a plastic sheet funnel and there is no air flow. Use these methods only after eight o’clock in the evening. Remove the cover once the sun has set, to give your plants fresh air. This stops them from moulding.