Wouldn’t it be wonderful, if everyone who wanted one had a perfect plot for vegetable growing? However - as with many things in life - perfection is usually out of reach, and unfortunately gardening is no different.

Most people’s image of a vegetable garden is one that will receive direct sunlight all day long, and that’s fantastic for growing old favourites such as tomatoes, peppers, and melons. But what are you supposed to do if you have no other choice than to grow in the shade? Of course, if your shade is caused by overhanging trees then you can try and improve the growing conditions - ambient light levels can easily be increased by careful pruning. Unfortunately that may not be the end of it as you will probably need to improve the soil too - established tree roots will not only remove a large percentage of the available nutrients they will also be taking out a good proportion of the soil water.

Luckily there are plenty of vegetable varieties around that will not only tolerate these lower light levels, they will in fact prefer them, and positively thrive.

There are of course some benefits to growing in the shade because you won't need to water as often and crops that are quick to bolt in hot weather - such as lettuces and spinach - will have a far longer harvesting period.

A good rule to remember is that if you are growing crops for the fruit or edible roots, then you are best suited with a sunny position. If you are growing crops for the leaves, stems, or buds, then a certain amount of shade will actually improve the crop.

Below is a list of the best vegetables for growing under shade.
Brassicas such as Broccoli, Brussel sprouts and Cauliflower
Swiss Chard
Leafy Greens, such as collards, mustard greens, and spinach.
You can also try growing vegetables that have been selected for their shade tolerance. Consider varieties such as beetroot 'Boltardy', calabrese, kale, and kohl.
If your shade is caused by deciduous trees then it is possible to try and work around it by making the most of growing early vegetables such as spring cabbage, and broad bean ‘Aquadulce’. Their seeds will need to be in the ground in early autumn so they are well established by early spring.
Take advantage of warmer and hopefully brighter conditions at home by germinating seeds earlier on in the year using modules. This will get them off to a far quicker start and will also help to establish their root systems before they are planted into the ground.
For more information click onto:


azplantlady said...

Hello Simon,

What great information for the vegetable gardener. You made an excellent point - we do not always have the right area with the correct exposure. So, it is nice that there are some varieties that can flourish in less then ideal lighting.

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

Really good information-it's good for people to know they still can garden if there is too much shade.
We do have a large tree nearby in our neighbors yard but our garden just gets enough sunlight to make everything grow pretty well.

Helen said...

Simon, This is extremely useful information, and dispensed in an easy-to-remember fashion: fruit and roots = sun; leaves = shade (tolerant). Thanks!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Simon,
Thanks for your nice comment, oh, I just remembered it was in blotanical. I had to laugh, because I like to clutter things up, and think of my blog as full of stuff more than professional looking.

I was glad to read this information, because I started gardening across the street in an area where the area us surrounded by trees. We did some trimming last summer. Now that I think of it, the plants on your list did better than the others that I planted.