[permaculture] growing food in the shade/ semi-shade

yarrow at sfo.com yarrow at sfo.com
Fri Oct 5 22:26:59 EDT 2007

At 6:42 PM -0700 10/4/07, Golden Love wrote:
>Does anyone have a list of edible plants that grow in semi-shade and shade?

We've done a shade edibles demo garden at the community garden, where 
we have grown -- in zone 9 [sunset 15/17, sf peninsula] -- arugula 
(annual, but reseeds easily), cilantro, parsley, celery, lettuces, 
and (for edible flowers) calendula and borage (both reseed 
themselves). This area is in high shade and gets a few hours of sun.

In my garden, I have lemon balm, strawberries, bolivian sunroot, 
yerba buena, broccoli (grown for its leaves), kale (russian, walking, 
and dinosaur), cardoon, parsley (reseeds  itself), green onions, 
calendula, mints (in containers), nasturtium, rhubarb, oregano, 
lettuce, and more in the shadier area (high shade, gets about 3-4 
hours of direct sun). A couple years ago, 2 cherry tomato plants did 
well there, and a volunteer winter squash took over the whole area 
and produced a lot. This year, my best-producing summer squash (Black 
Beauty zucchini) is in the shady area. The people who had the plot 
before I got it even grew beans in the shadiest corner! My 
raspberries get less sun than those in the rest of the garden (but 
still at least 4-5 hours of sun), so they start (and stop) producing 
a week or two later, but I still get a great crop.

Here are a few more suggestions. Try a few things and see what does 
well! Some plants that are listed as "full sun" [defined as at least 
6 hours of direct sun] will still grow well in high shade or dappled 
shade, though they may produce less than they would in full sun.

Shade Tolerant Vegetables (and Fruits)

It depends on your climate, soil, and what kind of shade you have. Is
it solid shade cast by a large building, or dappled shade cast by
trees? Few edibles will produce in all-day solid shade, but if you
have broken shade, or direct sun for at least part of the day, there
is hope of getting some vegetables to grow.

Shade is a blessing in hot climates. Areas that get 2 to 3 hours of
sun in the morning followed by shade the rest of the day are ideal
for growing leafy vegetables during the summer in hot climates.

Here is a list of the more shade-tolerant vegetables gleaned from
previous discussions of this question in rec.gardens.edible

* arugula
* cabbage
* kale
* lettuce
* mustard greens
* pak choi
* parsley
* sorrel
* spinach

* chives
* garlic chives
* onions

* cardamom
* mint

* peas
* bush beans

* blackberry
* currants
* gooseberry
* strawberries

Some Shade-Tolerant Edibles
           Alpine strawberry; bamboo - some species are shade-tolerant
but beware as they may become weed; blueberry varieties like
Everbearer, Knoxfield Barbara, Fairview, Knoxfield Fiona; avocado -
will grow in semi-shade, in fact needs semi-shade to establish, but
fruits only with at least some light, establish at the dark side of
the house and it'll fruit when it reaches the roof; bilberry - will
fruit in semi-shade; cape gooseberry - will fruit in quite deep shade
in temperate areas or in cool areas next to a warm wall; Chilean
wineberry - like a raspberry with yellow berries, very hardy, fruits
in temperate areas in medium shade; Chilacayote melon - will ramble
up and down trees, grows in shade but needs sunlight to flower and
fruit; feijoa - shade tolerant but won't fruit without some hours of
direct sunlight (and often a pollinator too); hops - will twine
happily through trees; Monstera deliciosa - frost free areas only;
strawberries - hot to temperate areas only and they won't crop as
well; rhubarb, grows tall and succulent in semi-shade, especially in
hot areas; chives (Allium spp), garlic chives (Allium tuberosum);
elder (Sambucus nigra); fennel (Foeniculum vulgare); garlic (Allium
spp) will grow in the semi-shade under trees in temperate to hot
areas, but may not flower; American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius);
horseradish (Armoracia rusticana); parsley, curled parsley
(Petroselinum crispum) - Common parsley will accept semi-shade in
temperate to hot areas, Japanese or Perennial parsley (Cryptoaenia
japonica) will also grow in semi-shade in temperate to hot areas or
in a pot in cool areas on warm paving or patio; salad burnet
(Poterium sanguisorba); Sorrel (Rumex spp); watercress (Nasturtium
officinale); artichokes - Jerusalem (semi-shade under decidous
trees); asparagus (semi-shade); celery (in temperate to hot areas);
leeks (hot summers only - good under deciduous trees); lettuce (hot
summers only); mizuma (Japanese salad green or green veg); potato
(hot summers in dappled light under trees or pergolas); silverbeet
(dappled light in hot areas, ornamental chard and other chard
varieties are more shade-tolerant than the common Fordhook Giant;
spinach - English (dappled light in hot areas).

EDIBLES FOR SHADE are mostly leafy, and can produce a decent harvest
with five hours or less of direct sun per day. They can be used
decoratively in the beds and borders. Parsley makes a great border,
and so do colorful lettuces. A bright red stemmed Swiss chard was
used at Longwood Gardens paired with a harmonizing red coleus. Other
shade tolerant edibles include arugula, chervil, bee balm, cabbage,
beet, borage, scallions, mint, chive, coriander, cress, escarole,
kale, mustard, pansy, pea, sage, sorrel, spinach.

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