How Does Photosynthesis Work?

Plants that Need the Most and Least Sun


How Does Photosynthesis Work?

All life depends on solar energy.

Plants need the sun. Green plants, such as the ones we garden, capture solar energy and convert it into forms they can use. This captured solar energy can then be consumed by plant-eating creatures. The process by which plants capture solar energy is called photosynthesis, which literally means, "putting together with light."

Green plants use photons of solar energy to break apart molecules of water and molecules of carbon dioxide and combine the liberated hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon to produce carbohydrates, specifically glucose, which are sugars, the basic building blocks of life. The plants then feed themselves with this glucose, which is why plants are so sugary and sweet. A byproduct that is made as well from photosynthesis is oxygen. Plants take carbon dioxide, a waste product to animals, and produce oxygen, which animals need.

So How Does Photosynthesis Work In Practical Gardening?
So one of our important tasks as gardeners or farmers is to make sure that our plants have the best possible chance to capture solar energy and work their photosynthesis abilities. You can't have photosynthesis without the sun. So we should place our plants in an area where the sun hits uninterrupted for at least 6 hours out of the day. This ensures that our plants receive and use adequate sunlight.

Some plants need more sunshine than others. Plants of more tropical heritage, such as tomatoes and peppers, as well as big plants like corn and squash, all need lots of sun a day, the minimum of at least 6 hours. Other plants, mostly of the leafy vegetable variety, can do with less sun. This includes plants such as lettuces, spinach, and all of the other green leafy plants. This is because these plants have relatively large expanses of leaf surface to carry out photosynthesis. Photosynthesis happens only where the sun meets the green foilage of the plant; if there's not much green surface area, there's not much photosynthesis. Plants, such as onion, garlic, and carrots, have very little surface area, so they'd do better in an area of full sun. Other plants, as mentioned before, such as lettuces and spinach, have large surfaces, so they can do with less sun. However, even shade-tolerant plants, such as leafy plants, grow faster and yield a bigger crop with more sun.

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