Growing Vegetables and Herbs in Shade

Raised bed garden in the shade

Every gardener dreams of the perfect garden location; one with full sun, fertile soil and good drainage. The reality is that many of us need to work with what we have, which may include shaded areas. Can vegetable and herbs be grown in the shade? When a plant is grown for the fruit or the root it’s generally known to need full sun. If the plant is grown for the foliage, stems or buds it can usually handle some shade. All shade is not the same, so it’s not quite that cut and dried, but the following lists will give an idea of what can be grown in less sunny locations.

FULL SHADE
Full shade is not suited to most average vegetables. Wild leeks and fiddlehead ferns are two of the few vegetable plants that can take a heavily shaded location.

TOLERATES LIGHT SHADE
Below are vegetables that will tolerate a light shade, but they generally will provide a smaller harvest and the fruit will be smaller. Swiss Chard for instance, won’t become as large and the vibrant colored variaties will be lighter in color. Light shade means they will get at least three hours or more of sun at some point during the day.

Asparagus
Beets
Broccoli
Bush Beans
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Jerusalem artichokes
Kohlrabi
Peas
Potatoes
Onions
Rhubarb
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard
Turnips

LIGHT SHADE
The list below will grow fairly well with the three hours or more of sun, or even in a situation where sun filters through trees, shrubs etc. to provide a shade/sun environment. Notice the list is primarily leafy vegetables and herbs, which goes along with the rule of thumb I mentioned earlier.

Arugula
Bok Choy
Chervil
Chives
Garlic Chives
Spinach
Green onions
Parsley
Sorrel
Garlic
Mint
Nasturtiums
Collards
Endive
Cress
Lettuce
Brussels Sprouts
Mustard greens
Thyme
Coriander
Tarragon
Radish
Cardamom
Kale
Cilantro
Dill
Lemon Balm
Oregano
Scallions

Vegetables and herbs that are grown in shade may also take longer to mature than those grown in full sun, which should be kept in mind when planning out harvest times.

All locations in the shade are different, and there are other things to consider when choosing a garden spot. If possible stay away from tree roots which suck up a lot of the nutrients in the soil. A fertile, fairly moist soil is fine, but a wet soil will only work for a few plants such as mint, cress and some greens. Dry soil should be amended and watered regularly.

Consider planting in a raised bed such as a “Pyramid Raised Bed Garden that will take up less room and perhaps can be placed where the sun is more pronounced.

There are many options for gardeners who are limited by shade in their landscape. Test out the vegetables mentioned and keep notes on what does well, and what doesn’t from year to year. Each garden season will become more productive as you discover what works in your landscape.

RECOMMENDED VEGETABLES
Fire ‘N Ice Radish

Detroit Dark Red Beet

Arugula, Rocket (Greens)

Viola Francese Garlic

Ruby Red Swiss Chard

Mesclun: Classic Mix Organic


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