How to grow an abundant vegetable garden in the shade
But it can also be incredibly complex and challenging! After you choose the plants you want to grow, what type of soil you need, and how much water they need… you still need to figure out where you want to plant them!
Home-grown vegetables and fruits are a blessing only a few of us are able to enjoy, and it truly takes hard work to get there. Read on to learn where to plant what in your vegetable garden.
What’s the difference between shade and partial shade?
On your seed packets, you may notice two different kinds of shade requirements — full and partial shade. “Partially shaded” means that the plant should receive around 3-6 hours of sun every day, and be shaded for the remaining time. Spaces that get sustained but filtered sunlight throughout the day are also considered partially shaded. Dappled sunlight is where the light can get filtered through other trees’ leaves.
While entire shade areas get no direct sun or reflected light during the day, a place with deep shade isn’t ideal for growing most veggies. All plants require some light to thrive.
What are some tips for growing my vegetables in the shade?
A partially shaded area of your yard is different from one that gets sun throughout the day. A shady spot is that microclimate which may be ideal for growing vegetables that wither when placed in direct sunlight. A partially shaded area in your garden can give a chance to extend your crops off the cool season from spring to an early summer season. A bit of shade in late spring will keep your leafy greens from turning bitter and also bolting in higher temperatures.
Plant the right kind of vegetables
There are some types of edible plants — like tomatoes and peppers — that simply won’t do well in the shade. Make sure that you are planting shade-loving veggies that will thrive in your space.
Start your seeds indoors
Starting your seeds indoors can be helpful if your garden is very shady. Seeds typically germinate in warmer soil, so they may be slow to germinate in very shady spots. Once they have at least two sets of true leaves and have been hardened off, you can transplant them to your shady garden space.
Use good quality soil
This should go without saying. In order to have a successful garden anywhere in your yard, you need to make sure that you have nutrient-dense soil that is suitable for the plants you want to grow. Root veggies like carrots and radishes can thrive in the shade, but they also require loose soil, so if your soil is very clay-y, they won’t thrive. Get your soil tested to understand the composition of the soil and the nutrients it may lack so that you can choose the right plants and amend your soil.
Make sure you understand your plants’ moisture needs
Because the shade tends to have cooler temperatures and less sunlight, water evaporates less quickly. So, shady spaces will have different moisture needs than sunny spots in your garden. If you are adding edible plants around the base of a shade tree, however, the moisture needs may be higher because your veggies are competing for moisture with the tree. Assess the space that you are using and watch for signs of over or underwatering.
Watch for common shade-loving pests
Snails and slugs love the shade and can be detrimental to your vegetable garden. If your veggies are getting chomped, seaweed and eggshells are great natural deterrents for slugs and snails.
Expect slower growth in the shade
Plants require sunlight for photosynthesis, so when they are shaded most of the day it can lead to slower growth. Your plants might take longer to mature and bear fruits (or veggies) than normal, or than the seed packet indicates.
10 veggies that love shady spaces:
- Bok choi
- Brussels sprouts
The key to a successful garden in the shade is planning. Get your soil tested to understand the type and what nutrients are abundant and what it lacks and pick vegetables that naturally thrive in the shade. Start a gardening journal to track what you plant and when it comes in, and how things grow so that you can be even more successful next season!