Growing veg in shade

Posted: Friday 3 February 2012
by Kate Bradbury

I’ve decided not to take any risks growing veg in my garden this year [...] consequently I’m only sowing shade-tolerant crops this spring.

Rocket leaves

I’ve decided not to take any risks growing veg in my garden this year. I harvested a reasonable crop of chillies and tomatoes last summer, despite the lack of sun, but probably not large enough to justify the hours of labour I put in feeding and watering the plants. Consequently I’m only sowing shade-tolerant crops this spring.

There aren’t many fruit and veg crops that thrive in shade, but those that do will be fine if well cared for. Most crops need a little sun, however, so if you can offer them a little, all the better.

While you’ll struggle to grow tomatoes, aubergines and pumpkins, look to broccoli, peas, Swiss chard, spinach, kale, and beans, and shade tolerant herbs like chervil and parsley. Radishes and beetroot will also tolerate a little shade, though I’ve not yet managed to get a good crop of beetroot from my garden.

Raspberries, blackcurrants, and some plum varieties will also tolerate a bit of shade, although they may not taste as sweet as they would if grown in full sun, and you'll get a smaller crop (morello cherries are a good option as they don't need to be sweetened by the sun).

You'll need to water less often if you grow crops in shade, and they're less likely to bolt or suffer from scorch.

So, while I’m not ready to have broccoli growing in my ornamental border, I’m happy to rig up a tepee to grow runner beans. Peas can grow in a large container, and spinach and salad leaves can grow in troughs outside the back door.

Easy! What crops will you be growing this year and why?

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Pink Heather 03/02/2012 at 20:41

Sorrel is lovely crop to grow in shade, even dry shade. In my garden it grows under a clematis montana which grows under an ornamental cherry. It requires no real attention and produces tangy, lemony, tender, heart shaped salad leaves that are delicious mixed with other leaves in a salad. It also provides good ground cover so keeps weeds away. What more could you ask?

Samuel. 03/02/2012 at 22:15

Sorrel also has fantastic light and airy flowers, great in any border or veg patch.

happymarion 04/02/2012 at 17:25

Red flowered and white flowered runner beans together up wigwams in the middle of my eight new raised beds once they are built with concentric circles around them of coloured chard, pretty salad leaves, flowers for cutting, lavender at the corners, potatoes round the edges - get the idea, Kate? A potager!

Gathegreenfinger 05/02/2012 at 22:35

I gre pumpkins last year for the first time down the allotment they did so well i am growing 4 times as many this year! I had ten plants last year and 15 pumpkins so 40 plants this year should give me at least 60 pumpkins. :) Some people think i am barmy and maybe i am.

I will also grow onions and shallots potatoes, runner beans, courgette and braod beans plus the odd little bit of salad too.

oldchippy 07/02/2012 at 19:54

If I did grow crop's in the garden it would be left to rot as you can alway's buy it in the supermarket so I am informed by Mrs Oldchippy.

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