Although most vegetables and fruit require a sunny spot for growth, there are numerous vegetables that grow in shade effectively. This can include the likes of salad leaves, radish, and beetroot. For some vegetable crops, a bit of shade can actually be highly beneficial. Plus, it means less work for you! After all, these plants will not need to be watered as frequently because they will be sheltered from the sun. There are even some crops that struggle in the sun, such as salad crops, so the only way to achieve lush growth is in the shade.
With that in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the best vegetables to grow in shade so that you can get a better understanding of your options. Once you have made your selection, “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible” is a great reference book for more in-depth information, on growing specific types of vegetables.
My Choice of the Best Vegetables to Grow in Shade
The first vegetable that we are going to take a look at is broad beans. They flourish most effectively in dappled shade. The flowers are highly fragrant and attract bees and another pollinating insects.
Beans are best picked and eaten when they are young and tender. Aquadulce Claudia, is an early maturing variety, that can be planted in the Fall and overwintered for harvesting in the Spring.
Kale is a superfood, and it has received a lot of attention over the past few years. In terms of growing kale, this is a hardy and robust crop, which is able to tolerate a light amount of shade.
Kale grows in a range of different colors and shapes, including Red Curled, Dwarf Green Curled, Red Winter, and Black Tuscany.
To encourage more leaves to grow, you are advised to pick them on a regular basis.
Next, we have leeks. On shady plots that get sun during the morning and shade throughout the afternoon, leeks are ideal. They need some sun, but they can also handle a bit of shade as well.
For heavy crops, it is advisable to choose hardy and reliable varieties, for instance, Autumn Giant or Musselburgh.
Carrots are also able to handle a bit of shade in the afternoon! However, you do need to be mindful of the space given when growing this vegetable. Make sure you do not squash the leaves when you thin out the seedlings, as carrot flies will be attracted to the scent.
There are some varieties of carrots that are resistant to pests, including Resistafly and Flyaway. Of course, you can also invest in pest control products to ensure your vegetables flourish.
Another vegetable that you may want to consider growing if you have a fair amount of shade in your location is radishes.
Within just a few weeks of sowing, radishes can be ready to eat. This makes them a great choice for those looking to grow vegetables for the first time.
Radishes also taste amazing. They are ideal for adding a bit of a spicy hint to your salad.
Simply repeat sow for a non-stop and low-effort harvest. What could be easier?
Next on our list of vegetables that grow in shade, we have kohlrabi, whose seeds are designed to be sown on a little and often basis.
These vegetables will also need to be watered on a regular basis and they are suitable for temperatures that are 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
There are a lot of different ways that this vegetable can be enjoyed. The leaves can be eaten in the same way as cabbage. They also taste amazing grated into a raw salad. Other ideas include adding kohlrabi to stew or peeling the swollen steams and tossing in butter to roast.
Potatoes also prefer cooler weather. While this vegetable will have no issue thriving in complete sun, the plants will also happily deal with a bit of shade too. You should expect smaller tubers and a lower yield when you do grow in partial shade, though.
Peas are a type of cool-season vegetable that will enjoy a bit of shade, especially when the weather starts to get hotter and hotter.
Snap and snow peas are relished for their crunchy pods. You may also want to enjoy the common garden peas, which are also referred to as English peas.
When growing peas, it is best to sow the pea seeds directly into the soil, during the spring, ensuring there is no more danger of any heavy frost.
Mustard greens represent another type of cool-season green, which also happens to be very fast growing. This vegetable is enjoyed for its pungent flavor, which tastes very much like mustard, hence the name.
If you decide to grow this vegetable in the shade, this will slow the plant from bolting and becoming bitter.
Allow the leaves to mature if you want to add them to soup, boil them, or sauté them. If you are planning on adding the leaves to a salad, they should be harvested young.
You will also be able to grow garlic in some shade as well, and we all know that garlic can take virtually any dish to new heights in terms of flavor!
Garlic is known for having big bulbs that contain cloves. Rather than being grown from seeds, garlic is grown from the cloves. It is planted during the fall, allowed to settle over the winter, and then it is harvested during the summer months.
Should you decide to grow garlic in partial shade, the cloves will be smaller, but they will taste just as incredible.
Celery is a type of slow-growing crop that grows during the cool season. It is known for its crunchy, long leafstalks.
The stalks will become hollow if they are subjected to too much heat.
When growing in partial shade, the stalks could be thinner and shorter. Nevertheless, celery does grow healthier out of the heat and it also prefers cooler weather too. Do do keep this in mind if you are interested in growing this type of vegetable.
You will struggle to read a cook book without a few salad suggestions, so growing your own salad leaves makes a lot of sense!
I recommend opting for loose-leaf lettuces, for example, varieties like the red leafed Lollo Rosso and oak-leaf types. Further varieties that work well in salads include Mizuna and other spicy, quick-growing leaves.
After the soil has warmed during the spring months, the seeds should be shown outside in little batches every few weeks for continual cropping.
The suggestions keep on coming with vegetables that grow in shade! Another type of vegetable that can handle some shade is beetroot, and I am sure you do not need me to tell you just how amazing beetroot tastes.
Beetroots do tolerate shade, but it is imperative that they get off to a good start. To ensure that this is the case, seeds should be sown in modules in vibrant conditions and when they are growing well you can then transplant them.
One of the most reliable varieties of beetroot is Boltardy, which is a sweet-tasting type. You also have striped Chioggia and the orange Burpee’s Golden.
I recommend that seeds are sown every few weeks in the spring and summer for a succession of roots.
You won’t find any type of brassica that is not able to tolerate shade. This means you have plenty of different options at your disposal here. This includes Brussel sprouts, spring greens, broccoli, and cabbages.
For late-season cropping, sow seeds during the spring months. To protect plants from cabbage white butterflies, you should use horticultural netting.
I also recommend growing arugula if you’re looking for a type of vegetable that is going to appreciate some shade.
This is a cool-season green that can spice up soups and salads thanks to the peppery foliage.
To grow arugula effectively, the seeds should be directly sown in the fall and spring.
Varieties that I recommend include Dragons Tongue, Wild Rocky, and Salad Rocket.
Last but not least, another suggestion that we have when it comes to vegetables that grow well in the shade is Swiss chard. We recommend picking the leaves when young if you intend to use them for salads. For spinach, pick them once they have grown a bit larger.
One variety I highly recommend is Bright Lights. As the name indicates, this type of Swiss chard has colorful, vibrant, and attractive stems.
I advise sowing from March to September, so use a frost fleece tunnel cloche to protect the Swiss chard when there is a danger from early or late frost.
So, there you have it: an insight into the large number of different vegetables that grow effectively when they are in the shade. I hope that this can help you to get a better understanding of what your options are. It is always important to consider the temperature and sun in your current location when determining what to grow. If you have a lot of shade, choosing one or several of the vegetables that have been mentioned above makes the most sense.