Real Men Sow

A Shady Dilemma for My Fruit

I was out in the garden for most of Sunday, pottering about and clearing the space for an Autumn fruit planting. All was going well, until I noticed something troubling: the right hand side of my entire garden was in shade all day.

The picture was taken around the middle of the day, when the sun was at its highest, and unfortunately the sun still wasn’t penetrating this area. This was where I had been planning to plant my fruit. The space is perfect is for what I want to grow in every way, except that rather crucial element called the sun.

This has left me wondering if I’m back to square one with my patch planting plan.

Now, I get quite obsessive when thinking about these quandaries, and I guess my blog is basically me obsessing out loud (or via the Internet). I tend to obsess more about what I might do, than I what I have done. I’ve been doing some more obsessing, based on past experience, some reading and some googling, and now I’m wondering if the shade might be okay after all.

Blackcurrants
For starters, I found out of control blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes in amongst the equally out of control weeds and shrubs in the shady bed. Over this summer, these bushes fruited, despite the shade, and no pruning or mulching for some time. How would they do if I gave them much needed TLC, and if they fruited in the shade this year, would other fruits do okay here too?

Could I introduce another blackcurrant bush? I’ve got a couple of nice bushes at the plot which I was looking to transplant to the garden. I’ve looked after these, and they’ve cropped well. They’re in full sun at the plot, but if the other blackcurrant bush can do it in the shade, surely these can too?

Rhubarb
I was already planning to put rhubarb on this side of the garden, and I know from the long established, happy but shady patch in mum’s garden that this veg-cum-fruit doesn’t mind these conditions.

Strawberries
Initially, the strawberries were going in the small area alongside the greenhouse, as well as the back corner of the garden. Alongside the greenhouse gets plenty of sun, so I may choose to extend the strawberries down to the end of the patch rather than put them in the shady corner. I love strawberries, so don’t really want them to fail.

Gooseberries
I also want to bring two gooseberry bushes over from the allotment. I’ve got eaters and desserts, but I’ve no idea whether they will crop in shade. According to the RHS, the bushes will tolerate partial shade, but as you can see in the picture, we’re talking a lot more than partial shade.

Raspberries
Most interesting is the raspberries, which don’t mind a little shade. What is fascinating though, are threads I’ve found from America, where the posters are chatting about raspberries growing wild in thick forests there, suggesting they’d actually be fine in my shady patch. If they can flourish under thick undergrowth and tree canopy then I can’t see my little fence causing many problems.

I could completely replan my plot, and grow shade happy plants such as salads in the troublesome spot. Planting fruit is for the long term, so a decision I could do with getting right.

Anyone out there with experience of fruit in shady spots? I’d be really happy to hear your thoughts.

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3 Comments

  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!September 13, 2012 at 12:29 pmReply

    What about planting in large tubs in that location for a year or two, and see how the plants do? Much easier to move if you’re not happy with them.

    Drawbacks: you have to mix up some potting soil (don’t use straight garden soil), the plants will be higher than they would be in the ground (maybe a good thing?)

    May be worth a try though. When I get large new plants from gardening friends, I often keep them in large pots for a few months or a year until I can decide where to plant them.

    (Having a blank slate almost gives you too many options, doesn’t it?)

  2. Jono

    JonoSeptember 14, 2012 at 8:00 amReplyAuthor

    Hey Alan,

    That’s an interesting idea, thank you.

    I’ve got my blueberries in pots, mainly because of the acidic soil requirements, but its handy too as I can move them inside when it is cold.

    Agree about the clean slate! I need to draw up a plan quicksharp. I’ve gone from espaliering an eating apple to cooking apple to greengage in a matter of days.

  3. Alison SoulsbyMay 9, 2014 at 6:45 amReply

    Hi, I’ve read that gooseberries are able to grow on east and North facing walls/ fences- so should be fine in your shady border. I’ve grown on in a north facing border by a 6ft high fence for the last 3 years and it cropped brilliantly last year (2013).

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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