Marianne CannonGrowing food in the shade

What can you grow in a permaculture food garden that’s mostly shaded? An important permaculture principle is to plant things where they are going to do their best. Although most vegetables are usually grown in full sun, listen while I find out from permaculturists Lucinda Coates and Margaret Mossakowska about a range of edible plants that will grow in the shade, like leafy vegetables, bush tucker plants and shade-loving herbs like the many types of mint.

Leafy vegetables will tolerate some shade

Leafy vegetables will tolerate some shade

Some of the leafy vegetables you could try are kale, chicory and different varieties of spinach or you could think about understorey plants like Davidson’s plum and finger lime. Fruit trees usually require sun but there are some fruiting plants that grow naturally in deciduous forests that will cope with more shade.

You can also look at any utilities you have in your garden, like water tanks or compost heaps and make sure they’re not using up sunny spots you should reserve for plants.

If you’re in a warmer zone, Australian native bees from warm areas prefer their hives in shade and also plants from tropical zones often prefer some protective shade like tumeric, ginger and bananas.

Ginger flowers

Ginger flowers

And learn about what tricks you can play with mirrors, surfaces and even shadecloth to increase light and make warmer microclimates within your garden.

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Marianne Cannon

About Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon has been broadcasting as Real World Gardener on radio 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney, since September 2009, and the program is now syndicated to radio stations around Australia. It's about growing your own, the abc of plants, and how to create sustainable gardens to fit into today's environment. Not just a show about plants; it has a strong green and ecological bent, with co-presenters addressing issues such as native animals and plants, water conservation, composting, reducing waste, protecting native species and more.

5 thoughts on “Growing food in the shade

  1. cassandra Devlin on said:

    Thanks for info, I would love to learn how to use mirrors for my shaded area

  2. Hello Cassandra,
    thank you for your question about mirrors.
    Just briefly, you really can use any old mirror from trash and treasure markets, but if you get one designed for outdoors, it’ll last a lot longer.
    Mirrors designed for indoors will need some kind of tape around the edge to prevent moisture from getting in between the backing and the glass and so discolouring it..
    Mirrors look best when they’re framed with something especially plants. That way they’re reflecting greenery and making your garden look more lush.
    The best ideas I’ve seen are mirrors that look like they’re a window, with window frames.
    If what’s reflected in the mirror isn’t all that appealing, then reposition it or put more plants around the site.
    The size of the mirror depends on the size of your garden and what effect you’re trying to achieve. Start with small as in a small window before going to a full length doorway sized mirror.
    Another tip is to position it so that you don’t see yourself immediately as you’re walking towards it. Do this by angling the mirror slightly. Another consideration after placing your mirror in the garden, observe if any birds are getting confused and flying into it. Birds can seriously hurt themselves by flying into mirrors and windows.
    One more thing. Don’t put the mirror so it receives full sun in summer so that any chance of an accidental fire, or plant burn is avoided.

  3. lauri orkney on said:

    thank you for the fun article.

  4. I saw Davidson’s Plum and Finger Lime and knew you would be a good gardening guru for me. Just starting my second ever garden after a year of growing on a reasonably large block. The new digs(haha) have shady zones and sunny zones, bush tucker and standards. Will be following and reading your blog as I go 🙂 (by the way I found this post on pinterest)

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