Growing vegetables in partial shade

Leafy crops will do OK without full sun

By: Sandy Feather 2010
Penn State Extension

Q. We recently moved into a new home, and mature trees shade much of the backyard. I have been a vegetable gardener all of my life, and I know that most vegetables require full sun to do well. My new yard offers two spots that get six or seven hours of sun. Are there any vegetables that will be productive in so little sun?

A. There certainly are vegetables that will produce well with six of seven hours of sun, and there may be steps you can take to grow those vegetables that require more. Even though direct sun does not reach the ground, the shade cast by mature trees is much brighter than the shade cast by buildings.

The main limitation will be those crops that produce fruit - tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, okra, squash, cucumbers, sweet corn, and beans. They require at least eight to hours of sun a day to be productive.

Root crops such as storage onions and garlic require a similar amount of sunshine. However, leafy crops such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, chard, kale, and collards do very well in four to six hours of direct sun. Many of these tend to bolt or go to seed when the weather heats up in summer, and the shade may slow that process. Also, many root crops such as carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, green onions and parsnips should produce a good harvest. Crops in the cabbage family such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi should also be fine in the sunnier spots.


Getting to know your Yard

Take time and get to know your new yard. You may be surprised to find that some areas get more sun than you think. Remember that summer shade is different from winter shade because the sun is higher in the sky in the summer. Make a line drawing of your yard to scale on graph paper. It does not need to be a work of art, just accurate. On a sunny day, use stakes and string to mark the movement of the sun. Hour by hour is best, but at least try to mark early morning, noon and late afternoon.

Map out the movement of the sun on your scale drawing and make a plan before you put spade to soil. You may not wind up with a traditional row-by-row vegetable garden. Perhaps curvilinear beds will help take best advantage of the available sun. If you find a spot or two that gets at least eight hours of sun, try fruiting crops there. Remember that you can trellis melons, cucumbers and beans, and perhaps they can climb their way into sufficient sun for them to be productive. Plant less demanding crops where there is less sun.

Any Other Options?

You do not mention the amount of sun your front yard receives. You may not want a traditional row-by-row vegetable garden in your front yard. However, there is no law that prohibits interplanting sun-loving vegetables with your ornamentals to take advantage of what sun your new yard offers. Planting sun-loving vegetables in pots that can be moved to follow the sun is another option. Ornamental peppers have become popular recently. Why not use edible peppers that ripen to shades of orange, purple, yellow and red in containers? They are every bit as showy and attractive as the ornamentals and you can enjoy them on a salad!


Vegetable plants

Preparing a vegetable garden for winter

Almonds and Pecans in Pennsylvania?


home | terms of use | contact | search | site map
Copyright 2017  DONNAN.COM  All rights reserved.