Many of us picture the perfect vegetable garden in full sun. Fair enough; most vegies perform at their best when they are exposed to around ‘six hours full sun a day’. If you’ve got a small backyard that is surrounded by buildings and trees, it’s difficult to find a spot that gets six hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be enjoying a fresh home harvest.
Through my own shady backyard experience, I have found lots of vegetables that perform well in less than ideal light conditions. On an even more positive note, a little shade can be a real bonus, particularly if it’s afternoon shade because sensitive plants don’t get as stressed and the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly.
It’s important to remember, no vegie will grow in all day shade. For the crops I am going to suggest, you’ll need at least three hours full sun a day, or a bright spot with reasonably constant dappled light throughout the day. Keep in mind too, fruiting plants such as tomato, eggplant/aubergine, cucumber capsicum/peppers and zucchini are the most sun needy, so reserve them a space in your sunniest spots.
Don’t feel restricted by having to have a formal vegetable growing area; you can always spot a few herbs and veg amongst your sun loving ornamentals, which look great, or grow a few things in pots and window boxes that can be moved from time to time to capture more light. Don’t be shy about growing vegetables in the front yard either, or even out on the verge.
Top choices for vegetables to grow in shady gardens
1. Leafy greens – lettuce, Mizuna, English spinach, silverbeet, rocket/aruglia, kale, Asian greens
2. Leafy root vegetables – radish, beetroot/table beet, carrot, turnip and swede
3. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts
4. Onions – garlic, shallots/scallions and chives
5. Peas and beans
6. Herbs – mint, coriander/cilantro, parsley and dill