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Smart Thoughts

7 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

Vegetables grown in shade

Not every gardener is blessed with full sun, making vegetable gardening challenging. But, by choosing shade tolerant vegetables, it’s possible to harvest plenty of fresh, homegrown produce.

Different levels of shade

Before you begin experimenting with vegetables that grow in the shade, it’s important to understand there are different levels of shade, and each level has a different degree of productivity.

Dappled shade occurs beneath deciduous trees, where the sunlight filters through the foliage. This is the best canopy for shade tolerant vegetables, as they’ll still receive occasional light during the day, depending on the sun’s movement.

Partial shade occurs when a garden receives sun for only a portion of the day, perhaps in the morning or afternoon. It’s quite possible to grow a decent vegetable garden in partial shade, just be careful to select the right kinds of shade loving vegetables.

Full shade conditions, such as on the north side of a structure or under heavy tree cover, make growing even shade tolerant vegetables difficult. In deep shade such as this, gardening is a struggle.

7 vegetables that grow in the shade

Most vegetables require a minimum of six to eight hours of sun. This is especially true of vegetables that produce fruits, such as tomatoes, squash, and peppers. But, the veggies listed below have a high shade tolerance, and you’ll get good yields, even with only two or three hours of sun.

1. Lettuce
For the best results from this shade tolerant vegetable, harvest leaves in the baby stage, while the plants are young. If full-sized heads are desired, stick with loose-leaf types.

2. Kale
One of the most nutritious shade loving vegetables around, kale thrives in just a few hours of sunlight per day. Kale is also extremely cold tolerant, making it a great crop for fall harvests.

3. Carrots
Though their roots will be slightly smaller than carrots grown in full sun, and they’ll take a few weeks longer to mature, it is possible to grow a decent crop of carrots with minimal sunlight.

4. Chard
Swiss chard produces edible leaves and stalks all summer long. Don’t expect huge leaves in the shade, but tender baby chard leaves are amply produced with only three hours of sun per day.

5. Beets
Another shade tolerant root crop, beets produce small – but delicious and tender – roots in the shade. In areas with less than four hours of sun per day, focus on growing beets for their greens, not roots.

6. Arugula
This peppery salad green doesn’t just tolerate shade, it thrives in it. Because arugula bolts when the weather warms, growing it in shade extends the harvest.

7. Radish
A quick-growing veggie that’s ready to harvest in a mere 30 days, radish is one of the best vegetables to grow in shade. In dappled shade, this early crop is ready to harvest even before the leaves emerge from the trees.