Browse the starter plants at any nursery or home improvement store and you’re likely to see lots of exciting plants. From edible to ornamental, each holds the exciting possibility of a more abundant yard — until you read the label.
“Plant in full sun.”
“Grows best in full sunlight.”
“Needs lots of sun.”
For those who have plenty of trees, or a porch or balcony that only gets an hour or two of sunlight, these labels are a disappointment. Many would-be home gardeners simply give up, wondering if they’ll ever have the right conditions for growing their own vegetables.
But don’t despair! There are plenty of delicious organic vegetables that can be grown without access to full sun. In fact, some even prefer it that way! If your hopes for growing low-cost, high-quality food were dashed because of too much shade, these eight plants are here to save the day.
Lettuce & Other Salad Greens
Salad is one of my desert island foods. If I were stranded and could only have one meal, I would probably pick salad. Summer is a great time for salads, with lots of seasonal fruits and veggies to pick from as toppings. But every salad starts with lettuce or another type of salad green, and as luck would have it, these organic vegetables are easy to grow in the shade. In fact, in Hawaii, summer lettuce is routinely grown under 35 percent to 50 percent shade. Varieties to consider include green leaf lettuce, arugula, endive and mesclun.
Broccoli & Cauliflower
Unlike some kids, I grew up loving broccoli and cauliflower, rather than hiding them in my napkin. Raw, steamed or pureed, both of these members of the cabbage family prefer cooler growing conditions, which means they tolerate shade very well! To ensure best results, look to plant these organic vegetables in a spot that’s airy and well-lit by reflected or indirect light for much of the day.
Beets & Radishes
There’s not a lot that’s similar about the taste of these two organic vegetables, but since they both grow underground and are slightly pink, I decided to group them together. Beets prefer partial shade, so try to plant them in an area that gets at least 2-3 hours of sun per day. Radishes grow slower when they don’t have access to a lot of sun, but you can still get a nice crop if you plant early. Bonus! Both can be grown in containers, which makes it easier to position them for a little burst of sun each day.
Onions & Scallions
If you’ve got an area that gets between 3 and 4 hours of sunlight per day, you’ve got a perfect spot to grow some aromatics. Onions and scallions both add delicious flavor to any meal, from soups and stocks, to kebabs. Scallions are also very easy to grow in containers, in case you’re working with a balcony or porch garden.
For a handy chart that lists many shade-loving organic vegetables and their ideal growing conditions, check out this article from Mother Earth News.
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