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Vegetables that Grow in the Shade

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Do you have a small yard with lots of shade? Or perhaps even just a patio or porch with just a tiny bit of light? If you’re working with a shady area, no matter the size, there are vegetables that grow in shade. Delicious shade-loving vegetables can give you an abundant harvest!

red romaine growing in a raised bed

How to Determine Shady Areas

For planning out a garden or flower bed planting of vegetables, a sun map is essential. Sun Mapping your yard or growing area allows you to be informed about how much sun each area of your yard receives. This information is crucial for deciding what can be grown in the different areas of your yard.

Not sure how to make a sun map? I’ve got a full tutorial for you right here!

Light Requirements for Shade Vegetables

When one hears the word shade, you may think about no direct sunlight at all. However, areas of shade in your yard or garden may simply have limited periods of light during the day, or they may be under shade trees where they receive dappled light during the course of the day. 

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Just a few hours of light during the course of the day is all many shade-loving plants need. If the light the plants receive is dappled, then they can probably tolerate more than 2 hours.

early spring garden

Soil Requirements for Shade Plants

For growing vegetables in the shade, there are some requirements for soil to ensure that roots don’t rot in the case of damp weather.

  • Well-drained soil. Since shady areas don’t dry out as well as those in full sun, be sure that your shade vegetable garden has well-drained soil.
  • This is easy to accomplish if you use a raised bed, which naturally drains well, but if you’re growing in the ground, test the drainage of your planting area ahead of time.
  • Non-compacted soil. Many root vegetables are good choices to grow in shade and part-shade, so loose soil is best for these below ground vegetables.
  • Away from roots. If you are planning to plant in the shade of other plants or trees, be sure to use a raised bed to ensure your vegetables aren’t fighting (and losing) for nutrients from these larger plants.

Best Vegetables for Growing in Shade

  • Arugula– This peppery green is perfect in salads
  • Asparagus– The hardy perennial grows well in part shade locations.
  • Beets– With both an edible top and bottom, beets are an all around winner. These cool weather favorites grow well in part or dappled shade.
  • Bok Choy– Another good fall choice, this tasty green is fun to grow.
  • Brussels Sprouts– Tasty and fun to grow, they do well in part-shade areas.
  • Broccoli– Especially the smaller varieties, broccoli doesn’t do well in full, hot sun.
  • Buttercrunch– A delicious lettuce variety that does well in shady areas.
  • Cabbage– In part-shade these spring and fall favorites can flourish, but keep them well watered and fed.
  • Chinese Cabbage– Typically used more as a salad green, these varieties grow well in shady areas.
  • Endive and Escarole– These lettuce varieties enjoy the cooler temps that shade provides.
  • Kale– Beautiful and delicious, kale can tolerate the cooler temps that shade brings.
  • Mizuna Greens– With it’s spicy/peppery kick, this is a fabulous addition to salads.
  • Parsley– a biennial favorite around here, parsley holds up well in either full sun or part-shade.
  • Radishes– Quick to grow and easy to harvest, these can easily be grown in succession for multiple harvests.
  • Rhubarb– A northern favorite, this ruby-stemmed gem does well in shady spots.
  • Romaine– We almost always have a front porch planter of shade loving salad greens, including romaine. Simply harvest the outer leaves, and let it keep growing.
  • Spinach– This hardy green can bolt in full, hot sun, so shady conditions work well.
  • Sugar Snap Peas– This spring favorite produces well in part-shade areas. In fact, full, hot sun can slow production
  • Swiss Chard– Beautiful and delicious, this colorful green can grow in part-shade conditions.
  • Turnips– One of my favorite fall vegetables, and a soil builder as well, turnips grow in shady conditions.

Tips for Growing in the Shade

  • As mentioned above, be sure to check your soil for draining if you’re not using a raised bed.
  • Use compost to dress your plants.
  • Grow in containers, so your plants can be moved around. This will give you the flexibility to get your shade loving plants a bit of sun, especially in cooler temperatures.
  • As always, have your soil tested before planting. This is a free or low-cost service from your local Cooperative Extension office.

I’d love to know if you grow anything else successfully in the shade! Feel free to comment below and let us know.

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