Sun is a crucial commodity in any garden, and if you don’t get enough sun in your garden, you might be wondering what to plant. Even having half your garden or yard covered with a shadow for part of the day seems like it excludes a great many options for planting.
Fortunately, there are shade tolerant vegetables you can experiment with that can maximize that shady space in your garden and keep it producing as seasons change and light fades.
When planning out your garden, spend time watching the way the sun moves for a few days, and designate the areas with the most sun exposure for light-craving plants, like tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, and cucumbers.
Shade tolerant plants:
The delicate leaves of many healthy, hearty leafy greens thrive in partial shade. For the cooler, shadier parts of your garden, opt for lettuce, spinach, sorrel, endive, watercress, arugula, and mixed salad greens. These typically thrive in the cooler parts of the growing season, and too much sun makes them bolt and become bitter, so they’re not only ideal for shade, they actually prefer it. They can do fine with 3 to 4 hours of sun a day, as well as dappled or indirect sunlight.
Root veggies such as carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes, do quite well with only 3-4 hours of sunlight a day. While they will grow bigger in full sunlight, they’re actually sweeter and have a more delicate flavor when they grow smaller.
The brassica family, such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, are happier in cooler temperatures so they’re ideal for either fall planting or shady garden real estate. They do just fine with half a day of sun.
Bush beans (as opposed to pole beans, which need full sun) and cold-season peas also will tolerate shadier patches of the garden, and also do fine with half a day of sun.
There are many herbs that prefer dappled sunlight or half a day of shade, which is why herbs are so easy to grow on patios or windowsills indoors. Mint, cilantro, parsley, and oregano do great in partial shade.
Finally, you can also experiment and see what works in the shade! Especially if you’re growing in pots, if something doesn’t seem to be thriving in the shade, move it to full sun and see how it does. Everyone’s climate and soil condition is a little different, and gardening is largely about trial and error, so see what you can manage to grow in the shade.
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