For those interested in growing their own veggies and herbs, precious little is posted about what tolerates “shade”. Even with Emerald ash borer decimating North Shore tree populations, most of us still have plenty of shade to go around.
Shade can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the gardener you’re speaking to. Doesn’t partial shade imply the remainder of the day is partial sun? Is 6 hours of morning sun, then PM shade, a half day of sun or partial shade? Is all morning shade, then afternoon sun, full sun? Kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it? Shade is so fluid it’s almost impossible to arrive at a mutually agreeable definition. Still I feel compelled to throw some parameters out to have a common understanding.
Sun: If the crop you want to grow has a conspicuous flower that produces a large “fruit,” those veggies need 6 or more hours of sun per day or else you’re going to be disappointed at harvest.
Partial Shade: When your garden gets down to 3-4 hours of direct sun, root crops are a tolerant lot.
Dappled Shade: When your garden gets two hours or less of sun and that’s the only space you’ve got for edibles, it’s hard to go wrong with “leafy” veggies. You will probably see leaves get larger than normal as the plants try to expand their leaf surfaces to capture the minimally available light. While leaves may be larger, expect them to be thinner with little direct sun.
Full Shade: For those dying to grown-their-own, but whose gardens are full shade, your best hope of anything harvestable is the above mentioned leafy greens. Word of caution, don’t be tempted to try and fertilize to compensate for lack of light. Forcing (especially with high nitrogen, the “10” in a 10-15-12 fertilizer analysis shown on the packaging) fertilizer on plants in low light will only result in thinner, weaker plants.
And to be horticulturally correct, I hope all vegetables understand the above title was never meant to offend, only to illuminate.