Although a sunny spot is ideal for most fruit and vegetables, many vegetable crops, including beetroot, radish and salad leaves, will grow in shade.
For some crops, protection from summer heat can be a positive advantage. Salad crops, for example, will produce more lush growth and won’t run to seed as readily, when grown in shade.
If you’re after ornamental shade-lovers, for planting in beds, borders and containers, check out our pick of the best shade-loving plants.
Discover 10 vegetables to grow in shade, below.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – brassicas
Pick the leaves when young for salads or when larger, as spinach. ‘Bright Lights’ has attractive colourful stems. Protect crops from cold weather with fleece. Sow from March to September. Read more about growing Swiss chard.
All brassicas are tolerant of shade, so as well as as cabbages try growing broccoli, spring greens or Brussels sprouts. Sow seeds in spring for late-season cropping. Net the plants to protect them from cabbage white butterflies.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – beetroot
Beetroots are tolerant of shade, but to get them off to a strong start, sow seeds in modules in bright conditions and then transplant when they’re growing well. Sweet-tasting ‘Boltardy’ is a reliable variety, or try orange ‘Burpee’s Golden’ or striped ‘Chioggia’. Sow seeds every few weeks in spring and summer for a succession of roots. Find out how to sow beetroot.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – salad leaves
Try loose-leaf lettuces, including oak-leaf types and varieties such as ‘Lollo Rosso’, plus fast-growing, spicy leaves like mizuna. Once the soil has warmed up in spring, sow outside in small batches every few weeks for continuous cropping. Find out how to sow salad leaves in a pot.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – kohlrabi
Sow kohlrabi seeds little and often, when temperatures are 10°C or above, and water plants regularly. Peel the swollen stems and toss in butter roast, add to stews or grate raw into salads. The leaves can be eaten like cabbage.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – radishes
Radishes can be ready to eat within a few weeks of sowing. They’re great for adding a spicy kick to salads. Repeat sow for low-effort, non-stop harvests. Watch this video on how to sow radishes.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – carrots
Carrots can tolerate afternoon shade. Avoid squashing the leaves when thinning out seedlings, as the scent attracts carrot fly. Or try pest-resistant varieties ‘Flyaway’ and ‘Resistafly’.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – leeks
On shady plots that get morning sun and afternoon shade, you’ll be able to grow leeks – they need some sun but can cope with shade. Try reliable, hardy varieties such as ‘Musselburgh’ and ‘Autumn Giant’ for heavy crops.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – kale
Kale is a hardy crop that tolerates light shade. Grow a range of different shapes and colours, including ‘Black Tuscany’, ‘Red Winter’, ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ and ‘Red Curled’. Pick the leaves regularly to encourage more to form. Find out how to plant kale.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – broad beans
Hardy overwintering crops such as broad beans, which get off to a quick start in spring, can cope in dappled shade. Early maturing ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ is ready to pick a month earlier than other varieties.
Discover the 10 best fruit crops for shade.
10 best vegetable crops for shade – recipes
Recipes for shade-loving vegetables