Growing in the Shadows: Shade Tolerant Vegetables

20130415-081246 после полудня.jpgPlants love sunlight like humans love a good meal. Most vegetables need at least 6 hours of  sun per day for nourishment. No plants can grow in darkness, but fortunately, like humans, different plants have different diets and some are fairly modest.

Gardeners with a shady corner of yard or a porch in a tree's line of shadow - don't despair! Shade has a place in the garden. Partial shade can offer relief for cooler temperature prefering veggies on a hot summer day.  It can also create a mildly different "micro-climate" and thus extend the spring and fall harvests of succession plantings. As northern gardeners, we are often guilty of focusing our attentions on heating up the garden, but there are benefits to cooling it off too. Sown in early spring, greens will persevere longer into the hot season if protected by some shade. The same is true for late summer showings for fall harvests. Spinach, for example, can be planted in the fall as empty spaces open up, left over after other vegetables (like carrots or spent tomato plants) have been harvested. It will grow in the shade, then overwinter to re-emerge  in early spring.

The most shade tolerant edibles are leafy greens.  They will grow with 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. They can also be harvested at any size, so if they don't receive enough light - pick them young.

Shade tolerant greens: Arugula, Lettuce, Chard, Kale*, Collards, Sorrel, Spinach, Parsley, Scallions, Mustard Greens, Asian Greens

*Other Brassicas such as Broccoli, Kohlrabi, and Cabbage will also grow in partial shade.

Root veggies are the next most tolerant. They require at least half a day's (4 to 6 hours) of sunlight.
Shade accepting roots: Potatoes, Beets, Carrots, Turnips, Radishes

The least shade approving plants are fruiting vegetables. Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, Squash, Melons, and Cucumbers like full sun!

This blog is provided by the Hudson Valley Seed Library, a small group of dedicated growers and plant lovers working to provide good seed to gardeners and small farmers. Your purchases support our work. Thanks!

Wild Arugula

Wild Arugula

Smaller, punchier, and hardier than standard arugula, the wild strain is beautiful and delicious.

Easter Egg Radish

Easter Egg Radish

Pastel and pleasant little egg-sized roots.

Mizuna Red Streaks Mustard

Mizuna Red Streaks Mustard

This unique and wispy mustard takes any ordinary salad to the gourmet.

Parsley: Gigante d'Italia

Parsley: Gigante d'Italia

More than a garnish, this large variety is a bright and tasty herb.

One thought on “Growing in the Shadows: Shade Tolerant Vegetables”

  • Marge

    Great article, I realize that without knowing it I've been giving my greens a lot more sun than they need at the expense of the sun lovers. I see a major reorganization taking place, if I can just get the geese out of the sunny raised beds.


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