great veg for shady spots

Six Great Veg for Shady Spots

I’ve been thinking about the area that will become my kitchen garden for summer, and what I can grow there. It’s a sad little space that cries out for some colour and love, but as I live in a terrace house, it doesn’t get much sun.

Being part of my garden, rather than the functional allotment, I’d like to make the area colourful and pretty, as well as productive. This is also an Ailsa-imposed condition, due mainly to her experience of some of my peculiar garden design ideas (it was nice driftwood, honest).

The shade rules outgrowing any veg that fruits from flowers, like tomatoes and peas, and the root veg which by most accounts requires at least half a day’s full sun. I’ve left the sun worshippers for the allotment, and compiled the following list of the more interesting and attractive partial sun tolerant veg that I’m thinking of trying in my shady spot.

Chard definitely meets the pretty requirement. Bright Lights and the Australian heirloom Five Colour Silverbeet are both beautifully vibrant and colourful and will cheer up even the glummest of days. Chard is also long-lasting, and my spring sowings have often remained in good nick until the next year.

I’ve never grown true spinach, preferring the hardy perpetual alternative instead. However, I can’t help thinking I’m missing out by not growing the proper Popeye stuff, so this year I might try small sowing, and pick it as baby leaves for salads. Hopefully, it will have the same effect on my biceps by the time I get married. I particularly like the intense colour of Tetona.

I love kale, and I grow lots of the dwarf curled variety on the plot. This is the standard green leaf job, but some of the more exotic varieties are stunning. The striking Black Tuscany and Scarlet provide a decorative and delicious feature in any veg patch. Again, I might try harvesting as baby leaves for the most glamorous salad I’ve ever eaten.

Lettuce is another delicate leafy veg that doesn’t necessarily like the heat, and will sometimes benefit from a shady patch. Personally I like the come and cut again varieties as salad leaves rather than full-blown lettuce, but Ailsa’s after some crunch this year so I might try some Cos too.

The first picking of this sugary sweet-smelling fruit is one of my favourite times of the year (see picture for an example of my happiness). For me, it’s like the official start of spring, and the minute the juicy stems are ready, I’m stewing, jamming, crumbling, and ice-creaming as fast as I can harvest.

I’ve got a packet of the purple Hilds Blauer Herbst und Winter (I think that’s German for Blue Autumn and Winter) that came free with a magazine a couple of years ago which I’m going to plant alongside my favourite radish, the pink, spherical Sparkler. Other colours to liven up salads include the white Tsukushi Spring Cross and the gold Zlata.

These are the cool and quirky shade-tolerant plants I’ve found or grown, but I’m sure there are more out there. Are there sun-loving plants that have bucked the trend for you, and excelled away from full light?

In fact, just yesterday I was chatting on Twitter to someone whose Alpine strawberries had completely taken over a shady patch. He’s now considering ripping them out, such is their rampant way!

Let me know which plants have succeeded for you, I’d be really interested to know.

10 thoughts on “Six Great Veg for Shady Spots”

  1. I found herbs – particularly rosemary – did better in the shade of the north-facing garden of my old house than they have done in the SE-facing or west-facing gardens here. So this year I’m moving all my rosemary into a cave or something 😉

  2. Good list, thanks for sharing. Here are a few of my favourites:

    Blueberries look good (blossom in spring, red leaves in autumn), taste good and are productive once established. They’re best grown in pots (they like ericaceous compost) and you’ll get higher yields if you grow two varieties together. Main drawbacks are that the plants are a bit pricey and the containers need watering!

    I also grow a lot of Asian greens in shady places: Mizuna, mibuna, chinese cabbages, serifon, pak choi – there’s loads! Scrummy.

    Chives, parsley, lovage and mint are good herb wise.

    1. Hi Mark, thanks very much for that.

      I do like my rhubarb!

      I’ve been looking at blueberry bushes. Other half is half American, and does love a blueberry. Any advice on varieties?

      I grow Pak Choi late in the summer, and also mizuna and mibuna, which I love as it lasts right into the winter time.

      I also overwintered some serifon, mizuna and green in snow (love that name) this year. They’re really hardy and not far from being pickable now, which is great for early salads.

  3. Thanks for this list. I have a wall on the west edge of my garden which only gets sun till about 2, so will try rhubarb and carrots there I think!!!

  4. Louisa – interesting. My rosemary and sage are North East facing and quite shaded, and they’ve grown really well.

    The thyme really hasn’t liked it though (twice).

    Trixy – hope it works, rhubarb is one of my favourites. Let me know how you get on.

  5. I’ve also found rosemary does better on the North side of the house. But how can this be? It’s a Mediterranean herb, I thought, that is supposed to love full sun….?

    Just looked up Jekka, the oracale on herbs, who also says that it needs a sunny position… Weird.

  6. No one else in my family really likes Chard but I grow Bright Lights for it’s beauty. Sometimes I’ll saute it with chickpeas for myself.

  7. The Hydroponic Gardener

    Chives! I swear they can grow anywhere. We have a pot of chives that date back over 20 years. Back then we lived on a real shady lot and we discovered these chives growing wild on the property. We have since lived in 3 other homes with varying degrees of sun and shade, and these potted chives have moved with us and thrived no matter where we placed the pot. Not only that, but it’s a hardy perennial that comes back every year with a vengeance! All summer long they are ready to be cut for a salad garnish. Oh, and I almost forgot to mentions the very showy lavender flowers that bloom early summer. You can’t go wrong with chives!

  8. Pingback: Real Men Sow is on a Sabbatical But Here Are 775 Veg Growing Tips - Real Men Sow

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