Growing vegetables and herbs in the shade garden can be done abundantly. Many herbs and vegetables actually do better in partial shade than in the bright sun. Mother Earth News has a great explanation of the shade garden and its requirements.
Vegetables that are grown for their leaves like spinach and lettuce make great vegetables that grow in shade. Also, vegetables grown for their roots such as carrots and beets are great examples too. However, vegetables that are grown for their fruits do not usually do well in partial shade as they require at least 6 hours of full sunlight.
Growing Vegetables and Herbs in the Shade Garden
Understanding Sun and Shade
Full sun is considered to be at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Partial shade is around 3 to 4 hours of direct sun followed by dappled shade. And full-shade is no direct sunlight at all. A few hours of bright sun followed by dark shade the rest of the day will cause lower yields if any at all. Meanwhile, a few hours of bright sun, followed by dappled shade usually brings higher yields.
The shade is more beneficial in the southern states throughout the summer where gardens may battle the higher heat. South-facing slopes and gardens may also benefit whereas north-facing slopes and gardens may not.
Problems and Solutions
The biggest challenge to the shade garden is usually the roots of surrounding trees. Roots may suck up much of the water, thus requiring more frequent watering. A solution may be using containers or installing raised beds.
Pests may be another challenge. Slugs and snails often cause havoc to plants due to the increased moisture levels. Installing a small pond or inviting frogs and toads can help combat some of the pest problems associated with shade gardens. Reflective mulch can help also.
Bringing In More Light
There are a few measures you can take to allow more light into your garden. The first is with reflective mulches. Red mulch is often used because it reflects light up to the plants. Many farmers feel that red mulch added to the garden bed helps tomatoes, peppers and strawberries to grow in the partial shade even if their yields take longer.
Another way to bring the light into your garden is to paint any walls or structures that surround your garden with white paint as white reflects the light.
Herbs for the Shade Garden
There are many herbs that actually perform well in the shade. Many of these herbs can be started earlier and be harvested longer in the shade than in the sun.
Herbs that do well in the shade:
- Mint (can be invasive)
Vegetables for the Shade Garden
You may be surprised at the large number of vegetables that actually produce well in the shade. Of course, trial and error will tell you best according to your climate and conditions. Most of these vegetables will thrive in an edible food forest as well!
Veggies that do well in partial shade:
- Beets (longer yield time)
- Bok Choy
- Brussel Sprouts
- Carrots (longer yield time)
- Chinese Cabbage
- Mustard Greens
- Potatoes (longer yield time)
- Rutabaga (longer yield time)
- Turnip (longer yield time)
Do you have a shady spot where you grow vegetables and herbs? Leave me a comment in the box below and share what you grow in the shade!
For a great E-book packed with information on herb gardening from growing to harvesting and even using your herbs, check out my newest e-book, Herbs 101: Herb Gardening and Preserving for the Beginner.