Can I grow vegetables if all I have is shade?
Despite the odd and changeable weather all over the globe, spring is coming and the gardening season is beginning. Every year there are new gardeners who discover the magic of growing and experienced gardeners who renew their fascination by trying new plants, products or designs. Novice, expert or anyone between, of all the different kinds of gardening possible growing edibles seems to be going viral for everyone.
Vegetables, fruits and herbs offer not only opportunities to experiment with gardening, but can be decorative and pay back with healthy, tasty food. Whether you grow your edibles in a small container, in a raised garden, integrate them in a flower bed or design a whole edible front yard, fruits and vegetables are showing off everywhere with the flexible roles and big payback they offer in today’s landscape.
One of the most common concerns I hear from gardeners is that they won’t be able to grow fruits, vegetables or herbs if they don’t have a planting area with full sun. “I don’t have a lot of sun. Can I grow vegetables and fruits anyway?” I’m asked. Happily, the answer is that you probably can.
A rule of thumb is that most edibles grown for edible flowers and fruits will need plenty of sun: tomatoes, squash, melons, peas, etc. Those grown for foliage and roots: spinach, rhubarb, beets, carrots and lettuce, for example, are more tolerant of shade.
The brighter the light and, of course, the more sun, the better. If you live in a very hot summer climate, many edibles – even the sun-lovers – can appreciate some relief from scalding sun. Last year a particularly hot summer week burnt most of my vegetables badly. If I had planted some vegetables in the shade, they would have been happier!
A little shade would have rescued them. But deep shade can be more difficult for growing fruits and vegetables even in hot areas.
Check out your growing space and find the brightest spot for growing your edible plants. A half day of sun or even some speckled shade will usually produce adequate leaf and root crops. Many herbs are also happy with less sun. Growing fruits and vegetables is so rewarding it’s worth at least giving it a try – even if you don’t have a lot of sun.