The same trees that bring beauty and shade to your property can also make sections of your garden unsuitable for planting most vegetables. Crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants need to soak up the sun all day, and will only thrive in spots that get full sun. But that doesn’t mean that your garden’s shady spots need to lie fallow! Maximize your space with these 7 shade vegetables, and enjoy a bumper crop this year.
Potatoes thrive best in full sun, but they can also grow in areas that spend half the day in the shade. Potatoes that grow in the shade take longer to mature and reach full size, but you can still get a healthy, delicious harvest even in your garden’s shady spot. Click here to get started growing potatoes in your garden!
On the menu since the Roman era, this delicious leafy green is high in fiber, protein, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Leafy greens are some of the best vegetables to grow in the shade; in general, if you grow something for its leaves, stems or buds, it will do well in partial shade. Kale is also a frost-tolerant plant, and it makes attractive edible landscaping. Click here for complete growing information about kale from Cornell University, and here for basic instructions on growing kale.
Broccoli is a delicious, healthy, easy-to-grow cruciferous vegetable that does just fine in partial shade. You grow broccoli for its stems and immature buds, so it follows the rule of thumb about leaf, stem and bud veggies making good shade crops. Click here for more information about growing broccoli.
Spinach is high in calcium, protein, iron, and vitamin A. This hearty green is at home in dishes ranging from salad, to quiche, to spanakopita, and fresh spinach from your home garden beats limp supermarket spinach any day. Spinach grows just fine in partial shade, and you can also plant it twice a year, in spring and fall. Click here for more information about growing spinach from the University of Illinois Extension.
5. Green Beans
Canned or frozen green beans can’t compare to fresh-from-your-garden beans, so green beans are a wonderful addition to your vegetable garden. Green beans will grow well in partial shade, although the yield will be reduced. Green beans come in two main types: bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans start producing earlier in the season and don’t require any support, but pole beans produce 2 to 3-times the yield in the same amount of space and are easier to harvest. Click here for information about growing green beans from About.com, and click here for in-depth information about pole beans from Cornell University.
Peas are related to beans and, like beans, they will grow well in partial shade but will have a reduced yield. Peas taste their absolute best right after harvest, so be sure to cook, can, or freeze them soon after you pick them. Click here for information about growing peas from Cornell University.
7. Brussels Sprouts
These long-hated veggies have been making a comeback, and with good reason. It turns out that boiling Brussels sprouts turns them into the bitter, mushy childhood nightmare so many of us remember, while roasting them produces a scrumptious treat with a slightly crunchy, lightly caramelized exterior. Who knew? Wet & Forget team member Melissa absolutely loves this recipe with roasted Brussels sprouts from Food & Wine Magazine, and her family is overjoyed every time she makes it. This recipe includes two other shade-tolerant veggies—parsnips and cauliflower—so you can savor your shade garden! Add some garlic bread, and it’s a thoroughly satisfying meal. Click here for information about growing Brussels sprouts from Cornell University.
For more ways to maximize your garden space, check out our articles on how to build raised garden beds, how to plant a vertical garden, and how to optimize your garden’s soil to get your best harvest yet.
Savor the shade and maximize your garden!