By Bec Wenzel
Over my summer break I have been working on creating a new vegetable garden, and whilst I found the perfect sunny position for my small vegetable plot to live I also stumbled across a shady area of my yard which hasn’t been doing much at all. It’s not in a highly visible part of the yard so personally I didn’t want to grow ornamentals. I do like to eat fresh and although I have the main veggie garden I was thinking more edibles would be perfect because you can never have too much fresh produce.
Most of the time when you walk into a garden centre you will be told that if you want a vegetable garden sun is what you need for a good crop, but not many people talk about what the options are for a shady area. I’m sure many of you would love to grow fresh produce but sometimes the shade outweighs the sun in many homes. Fruit crops such as tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants are always best in full sun. The crops that grow well in the shade tend to be either root vegetables or leafy greens. As long as the area receives a few hours of sunlight per day or is in a dappled shade situation you can grow some of the following goodies.
Mesculin, sorrell, arugula, mizuna and mustard greens: very easy to grow in shaded areas, requiring 3-4 hours of sunlight a
day. Great additions to the summer salad.
Lettuce: requires about 3 hours of sunlight a day. Loose leaf varieties are best, not the varieties that form a head. Some options include Oakleaf, Drunken women and Buttercrunch. These lettuce varieties are repeat harvest so don’t pull the whole plant up, pick leaves as you need them.
Spinach: also requires around 3 hours of sunlight a day. Grows extremely well in a shaded position. Helps prevent the spinach from going to seed.
Kale: I find kale does better in the shade than the sun as it is very prone to white fly and this seems to help. It grows better in a cooler position and requires only around 3 hours of sunlight.
Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli: these veggies grow very well in the winter months as they prefer a cooler climate so having them in part shade is a good thing to do during summer.
Beans and peas: these two love the cooler conditions of a shady corner but require slightly more sun at around 4-5 hours a day.
Mint, coriander and parsley: 3 hours of sunlight a day is suitable. These herbs grow extremely well in part shade conditions and it will help prevent them from going to seed.
Some of the advantages of growing vegetables in the shade are:
- Preventing heat stress and scorched leaves
- Preventing the plant from bolting and going to seed
- Longer growing period
- Fresh and lush crop with exceptional taste, without the bitterness
Make sure your soil is rich in nutrients because although these veggies won’t be getting a lot of sun they will need some extra help with compost and manures, and just because it’s a shady area don’t skip out on watering time. The plants still love a good drink over summer. Slugs and snails can cause more issues in your slice of shade so be careful to watch for them and stay ahead of the problem. Slug and snail bait is readily available including child and pet friendly products.
I’ve had a lot of fun stumbling across this unused corner of my garden and turning into a working piece of land for me. It’s only small but I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a bit, herbs being my main hero for the area, and I’ve quite enjoyed being out of the sun for once. Embrace your shady areas and get growing food for the family. No need to miss out on growing fresh produce any more. With only a few hours of sunlight you can do wonders.