Unless you live in the desert there’s quite a high chance that your garden, patio or even allotment has some shade. It might even have quite a lot. But that doesn’t mean you have to rule out growing your own vegetables and fruit. In fact, if you choose the right veg to grow they should provide you with a plentiful harvest.
As a rule of thumb fruit and root plants (such as carrots, swede etc.) do better in the sunshine while plants that you grow for their leaves, buds and stems can tolerate shade. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll thrive in a dark shady corner that never gets the sun, but a few hours of sun a day should be enough. You may not have to water them so often as their cousins in the sunshine.
The trick as always is to check the variety of vegetable before you plant to see what conditions it will tolerate and to check the quality of your shade. There are sites that get morning sun and afternoon shade, there are sites that get the opposite, sites that get dappled sun and sites that get no sun at all!
A plant that is described as needing full sun probably requires at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. So just spend a little time getting to know your shade before you plant and then try some of the following suggestions.
Kale and spinach
Kale and spinach require similar growing conditions and will tolerate light shade. In fact, a bit of shade is beneficial as it stops the kale going to seed. If you live in a milder area you can also grow both during the colder months although they will need more sun then.
They require moisture-retaining soil and can also be grown in containers so not only are they a great pair to grow to add some nutrients to your plate but they are fairly easy to accommodate however small your plot.
Cauliflower and broccoli
Another two really healthy veggies which will grow in partial shade are cauliflower and broccoli. Cauliflowers need a bit of room, rich soil and a deep spot so make sure you’ve dug in lots of well-rotted manure or compost in advance. They’re another crop that you can grow all year round and you’ll need to plant them about 60 cm apart and keep them well watered.
A great compliment to cauliflower is broccoli and it can be slightly easier to grow if you’re an inexperienced gardener. Again, plant them in fertile well-draining soil and in partial shade.
You may not think of peas as shade-tolerant veg but why not give them a try. They require a sunny, nutrient-rich, moisture-retentive site. But provided they get some sun they can do ok. Morning sun with afternoon shade will work or shaded roots but a sunny top can give them enough sunshine too.
They will need support with trellis or netting but you can grow them in autumn for a late crop, spring for an early harvest and you can sow at different times throughout the year to make sure you have delicious fresh peas on a regular basis.
While growing fruit in the limited sun is generally a bit harder it’s not impossible. Even if you don’t yield the sweetest, juiciest of produce.
Gooseberries are easy to grow and they’re not too fussy about soil. Just check the variety that you grow before you plant - the cooking ones are best. They’ll need a moisture-retaining, rich soil and you can grow gooseberries in containers.
They do prefer a spot in full sun if possible but should be ok with a few hours of sun. Don’t forget that birds love gooseberries too so when they’re ready to harvest you have to act fast or you may miss out.
Red currants and white currants
Another great addition to the gardener’s palette is currants, whether they’re red, white or even black. They’ll need a slightly sheltered spot and although they prefer full sun they will tolerate dappled shade. You’ll also need to train your currents but once well-established they can go on producing fruit for many years.
Nearly every garden or patio is likely to have some shade but it really isn’t a reason to think of it as wasted space. A little bit of planning and research and perhaps a little bit of extra loving care can mean that you manage to get an additional crop or two out of your shady corners.