Not everyone has an ideal space that receives more than 8 hours of sun per day to create their vegetable garden. But rest assured: that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get crops! Find out how to get a productive shade garden.
To be productive, a vegetable garden should ideally be located in a space that receives 6 hours or more of sun; commonly grown varieties, such as tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, require a lot of sun and heat. However, there are varieties that prefer partial shade, and here we share tips for getting good yields in shaded areas.
First, spring and fall varieties, which appreciate freshness, can be grown in partial shade in the hottest regions. Radishes, peas, lettuces and other leafy vegetables also fall into this category and grow very well at the foot of or in between larger vegetables: if you have a sunny garden, such companionship can increase its productivity. Multiply harvests by adding plants suitable for partial shade at the base of larger vegetables.
Many vegetable plants, including the Brassicaceae family (cabbage family) and other leafy vegetables also appreciate some shade and freshness, especially in the middle of the day. Cabbage (pak choï, kale …), lettuce, mustard, Swiss chard or lovage and onions will produce well with 4 to 6 hours of sun.
The majority of herbs are also grown very well in partial shade. They will be more productive in full sun, but will still grow well with 4 hours or more of sun, and will flower less quickly. Chives, oregano, parsley, cilantro, tarragon and basil fall into this category. Mint can even be grown in the shade but it will be slower to produce, while thyme and rosemary require 6 hours of sun or more.
Finally, several edible flowers have their place in shade gardens, whether perennials such as Monarde and Agastache, or annuals such as nasturtium, borage or tagetes, in the sunniest areas that is.
In cases where shade is prevalent, plants grow slower than in the sun. It is therefore better to harvest frequently rather than waiting for the plants or vegetables to reach maturity. For lettuce and other leafy vegetables, young shoots can easily be harvested. This is the case of Mesclun: it is possible to make several sowings during the season and multiply the harvests over weeks. For fruit vegetables, such as zucchini and peppers, harvesting can be done while the fruits are still small or green: the fruits are nevertheless edible and this will force the plant to produce new ones. In the case of herbs, removing a few stems regularly stimulates plant growth and allows crops to be obtained throughout the season.
No matter what conditions you have at your disposal, there will always be plants suitable to realize your garden. Check out our other articles for more growing tips, and visit our store to get our professional grade equipment for urban farming.