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10 Ways to Grow a Shade Garden

With the right plants and a few tricks, you can grow a productive food garden in a shady space.

| May/June 2013

  • Some herbs, including anise hyssop, can grow with only a few hours of sunshine a day.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Many greens, including bok choy, can grow in low light.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Growing in low light may produce scaled-down versions of some plants, but these petite versions are just as tasty.
    Photo By Shutterstock
  • Many types of pea can grow with just four or five hours of sun per day.
    Photo By iStock
  • Keeping soil rich and plants healthy will go a long way to finding success in less-than-ideal gardening conditions.
    Photo By iStock
  • Many types of greens, including lettuce, spinach, kale and arugula, can grow in low light.
    Photo By GAP Photos
  • Root vegetables such as turnips need only a few hours of sunlight per day to grow.
    Photo By Shutterstock

If you aren’t blessed with a prime gardening spot that receives full sun (eight to 10 hours of sunlight per day), don’t despair. A handful of fresh garden vegetables and quite a few delicious culinary herbs will grow happily in shady spots, including underneath a tree canopy or in the shade of a building. A few simple techniques can improve your chances of getting a good crop that was made in the shade.

1. Herbs for Shade

Besides being an easy way to add nutrition and flavor to all your meals, culinary herbs provide a tremendous amount of natural beauty to your landscape. Some herbs definitely need full sun (sorry, basil lovers!), but these 12 herbs will grow in spots that only get two to four hours of sun per day, or are in dappled sunlight for much of the day:

• Anise hyssop
• Chives
• Cilantro
• Lemon balm
• Marjoram
• Mint
• Oregano
• Parsley
• Shiso
• Spicebush
• Sweet woodruff
• Wild ginger

2. Grow Salad Greens

Many greens are amenable to low light, and your body will thank you for dedicating an entire garden bed to nutrient-dense, fiber-rich greens. Try the following:

• Arugula
• Asian greens such as bok choy and tatsoi
• Kale
• Lettuce
• Mesclun greens
• Mustard greens
• Spinach
• Swiss chard

3. Grow Peas

Many types of peas and beans will eventually give you a good crop if they receive just four or five hours of sun per day. Try smaller dwarf and bush varieties rather than pole varieties.

4/29/2015 8:18:30 AM

Resources please: Where did you get your tall glass domes from? Thx

5/28/2013 2:31:25 AM

Thanks Tabitha , Only an expert garden practioner can provide such practical tips..These tips are gems for the gardening or farming newbies...I really liked that "Lettuce Bathcos" crafted on wood.

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