Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide

Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide

Ever heard of black sex link chickens, but aren’t sure what they’re like? Thinking of adding them to your flock and need more info? In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about this type of chicken!

Pure breed chickens have long been the way to go to add consistency in a home flock of chickens. Pure breeds have some amazing benefits: you can scratch the competition itch by entering them in shows, you are guaranteed registration with the American Poultry Association, and the genetic quirks from long generations are guaranteed to appear in their chicks, leading to generations of consistency within the particular breeds. Yet for all the perks that come from genetic purity, there are just as strong cases of bucking the trend and breeding hybrid chickens. Hybrid chickens are not breeds of chickens, but rather mixes that produce very specifically desired chicken results. One of the most popular of these types of hybrid is the Black Sex Link Chicken. 

What Are Black Sex Link Chickens?

Black sex link chickens are a hybrid mix that results by crossing a pure-bred barred hen and a pure-bred non-barred rooster. For example, crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a Rhode Island Red rooster will result in sex-linked chicks. When these parents mate, the pullets do not receive a barring gene because the barring gene is only on the male chromosome. Because of this, the sex of their chicks is immediately recognizable through its color. From birth, Black Sex Link pullets are all black, and the males are identifiable by a white spot on their heads. The link here is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to know the ins and outs the genetics behind sex link chickens.

What Are Sex Link Hybrids? 

In a nutshell (or an eggshell, as the case may be), a sex link hybrid is NOT an official breed of chicken. They retain many of the more positive qualities of their parent chickens’ breeds but are specifically bred for the uniqueness of their coloring. 

Perhaps the most common and popular example of a sex link hybrid is also the most prominent example of the Black Sex Link. If you cross two popular American chicken breeds – a Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female – you will get sex linked chicks. The gender of the resultant chicks will be immediately recognizable upon hatching. 

Why Breed Black Sex Link Hybrids?

In the above example (the Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female), the goal is to produce females that can be immediately separated from the males. Then, once these females come of age, they will be some of the best egg-layers around. With good care, they have been known to produce 300 eggs per year. 

An added bonus of this particular pairing of chicken is the size. The Black Sex Link results of this pairing is large enough to serve as meat chickens. Once your Black Sex Link hens have exhausted their eggs, they will make a sizable addition to your dining needs. 

Breed Description FAQ

What Do Black Sex Link Chickens Look Like? 

Black Sex Link pullets are instantly recognizable when they hatch by their pure black down. You can easily recognize male chicks because they have a distinguishable white spot on their heads. At maturity, Black Sex Link hens are usually black with gold hackle and breast feathers. Roosters, on the other hand, have banding across their bodies. Both male and females have red combs and wattles.

So, how large are they? On average, the hens weigh 6-7 pounds. Cockerels weigh around 8-9 pounds. Some hatcheries advertise their black sex link chickens a little lighter: with the hens being only a touch over five pounds and the roosters being about 6 pounds. 

Are they friendly? Black Sex Link Chickens are sometimes described as skittish, curious, energetic, and friendly. Many of their owners love them, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Some Black Sex Link Chickens have been known to be noisy or aggressive to other breeds. This is especially true with the roosters. Some of this could be explained away as an alpha-bird attitude in that they occasionally enjoy being at the top of the pecking order. You might wonder if the hens are broody: we’re happy to share that black sex link hens are not known for their broodiness. 

How long do black sex link chickens live? They live as long as any normal chicken. Rhode Island Reds – one of the parent breeds – are generally known to live into their eighth year. If you’re worried about them surviving the winter, don’t fret: The two parents of the average Black Sex Link Chicken are the Rhode Island Red and the Barred Plymouth Rock. Considering that both of these breeds are very cold hardy, Black Sex Link Chickens breed true in this regard; they are very cold hardy and are ideal for colder environments.

black sex link hen in grass

Are Sex Link Chickens An Accepted Breed By The American Poultry Association?

No, they are not and never will be. One important requirement for chickens to be accepted breeds is that they have to actually be breeds. A breed is a type of chicken that, as defined in the American Poultry Association’s list of breeds, breeds true. A standard is a definition of a breed that each subsequent generations of the breed can be compared to. The APA doesn’t want to disqualify breeds, and offer a means of applying for the entry of new breeds of chicken into the registry but each applicant must have a standard. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are hybrids, they will not breed true. This means that the resultant offspring will not conform to any standard, and they might display a number of deviations from either parent.

Do Black Sex Link Chickens Breed True?

For a chicken to breed true, there must be some genetic consistency within the breed. With Black Sex Link Chickens, the father cockerels share two color genes that might match inconsistently with the single-color gene of the mother hens. The inconsistency of the result could produce variations like heavy banding, or alternative coloring. Because of the roulette matching of genes, Black Sex Link Chickens cannot breed true. As a result, most Black Sex Link Chickens are not bred past the first generation. 

How Often Do Black Sex Link Chickens Lay Eggs?

Black Sex Link Chicken hens thrive at egg production and can produce about 300 eggs in a single year with proper care and if they are in good health. They start laying at 18-20 weeks on average, but have been known to start laying at 16 weeks or as late as 26 weeks. They usually maintain optimum egg development through about their fifth year, when they begin waning in egg production. Their eggs are brown.

What Kind of Health Issues Do Black Sex Link Chickens Have? 

Black Sex Link Chickens suffer from the same health issues that most other chickens endure. As far as external threats, ticks, mites, lice, worms, and other parasites are all dangerous to them. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are so important for egg production, you’ll want to minimize their potential danger. A great way to beat the bugs is by boosting your chickens’ immune systems with apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic. 

black sex link rooster in grass

Where To Find Black Sex Link Chickens?

Black Sex Link Chickens are quite a popular hybrid for their impressive egg production and good size for dining purposes. As a result, they are fairly easy to find in a number of commercial locations around the USA. 

  • Tractor Supply 
  • McMurray Hatchery, based in Webster City, IA
  • Cackle Hatchery, based in Lebanon, MO (Read our review of Cackle here).
  • Purely Poultry, located in Fremont, WI
  • Townline Hatchery, from Zeeland MI

A common question is “Are black sex link chickens and black star chickens the same?” – and it’s because sometimes, hatcheries want to distinguish their hybrids from other, similar, chicks. But ultimately, Black Sex Link Chickens and Black Star Chickens are the same. A simple way to look at it is to think of “Black Star Chickens” as a specific designer name for the hybrid. There might be some minor differences between the one and the other, but all Black Star chicks possess black as their primary color and can be sexed from hatching.

Heated Chicken Waterers

Heated Chicken Waterers

Heard heated chicken waterers can make life easier, but aren’t sure which to buy? Not even sure they’re safe? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know!

For people like us, who raise animals out of the comforts of a heated home, cold is a serious problem. If the temperature drops too far, water freezes. While some animals can break ice – with breath and a hot tongue, or a beak – there are limits to what these resources can do. And when temperatures plummet, dehydration can be a major problem for your fur or feather babies. 

One solution – heated chicken waterers – are a simple method of providing water to your flock. Today we’ll look at the kinds of heated waterers available for our chickens. 

Our Favorite Heated Chicken Waterers On Amazon:

Do Chickens Need to Drink Water?

Oh yes, chickens absolutely drink water. It might be funny to watch them – they fill their mouths and then tip their heads back – but water is an absolutely necessary part of their daily diet. Actually, an adult chicken will drink a few cups of water per day. Get a group of 20 chickens together, and they’ll likely go through as much water per day as a cow. 

Are Heated Chicken Waterers Safe?

Mostly, yes. You need to watch out for how hot they get, and how much electricity they draw. It’s best to look at your user manual and reviews online for the specific unit you’re considering.

Are There Different Types Of Heated Chicken Waterers?

Not including home-made, there are three different types of heated chicken waterers:

Automatic Waterers 

These waterers contain a basin that has one or more openings at the base that open only when chickens use them. These are generally clean, neat, and very hygienic. Depending on the valve, these waterers also avoid dripping water and frozen puddles beneath them. However, some parts are more prone to freezing.

Gravity-Type Waterers 

These operate under the same principle as the automatic waterers, save for one major difference: the distribution method. These jugs generally are attached to an open pan (also known as a “drinker”) that your chickens will drink from. Because they are open, you run the risk of your birds contaminating the pan. The drinkers are also pretty easy to break off. 

Open Pans Or Dish-type Waterers 

These are often a pan set out over a heated base. They run the same risk of contamination as the gravity waterers, which will require more scrubbing than, say, the automatic waterers. Elevating them off the ground in the heated base will help to reduce the muddying of waters. 

What Makes The “Ideal” Heated Chicken Waterer?

This is a complicated question. There are several key elements to consider:

  • How cold does it get in your area?
  • How many chickens are in your coop?
  • What material works best for you?
  • Should it rest on the floor or be elevated? 
  • Is it durable enough or will it freeze? 

Affordability is another concern. Some options – like batteries – can cost a lot over time. Some heated chicken waterers (especially the do-it-yourself variety) could put unnecessary stress on your wallet. 

How many chickens have you got? The answer to this will determine the size of your waterer, as you don’t want to be slogging out into the cold every couple of hours to refill the water of your birds. 

In other words, the ideal waterer will completely depend on your flock. Just make sure it’s durable so in the event that the water does freeze, the container won’t rupture or break. 

Let’s further explore these questions below.

How Big Should It Be?

As previously mentioned, a flock of 20 birds will drink about as much as a cow – that’s a whole lot of water to provide. If your flock consists of fewer than 5 birds, a single 2-gallon waterer should suffice. Most single waterers range in size from about a gallon to 3 gallons. The heaters in heated chicken waterers are very adept at cooling off smaller areas, but anything larger than that could run into problems with the law thermal equilibrium, which states that temperatures will seek a balance. 

In extremely cold weather, some heaters might prove insufficient in warming large quantities of water. 

With the addition of more birds, you will probably need more heated chicken waterers. Some sources recommend having on three-gallon waterer for every 10 to 12 chickens. 

What Kinds Of Automatic Valves Are There For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Nipples are a type of automatic valve that is fast becoming a preferred method of watering chickens on cold winter days. These are designed to not release water until your chicken pokes it with their beaks. 

Floating valves are small cups of water. When your chickens dip their beaks into the cup, they press on a floating valve that releases fresh water into the cup. This provides a constant set amount of water in this hanging waterer.

Should I Use Plastic Or Metal For My Heated Chicken Waterers?

Ultimately, that is your call. Both materials are excellent in cold weather. Plastic waterers are durable and do not break easily. Galvanized metal also holds up very well in extreme cold BUT freezes faster than plastic. Both can be found with internal or external heaters, though plastic heaters usually have the heating element in the base. 

Should I Hang My Heated Chicken Waterers Or Lay Them On The Ground?

This is an important question, that depends, in part, on what you have available in your coop or in your pen. One clear benefit of hanging waterers is you can raise it off the ground, and your chickens are less likely to roost on them (which means less poop). Elevating the water from the ground reduces the chances your flock will poop in it. 

Ground-based waterers don’t have to be messy, however. A waterer set upon a heating pad can still get that required height and also remain equally clean to hanging heated chicken waterers. 

How Often Should I Refill My Heated Chicken Waterer?

The easy answer is “Whenever they need filling.” Since most waterers can hold upwards of a couple of gallons, they have a bit of staying power. Still, you should be checking your waterers at least once every day. That way, you can top off the containers when you see they need it, and you can see if they need to be cleaned. Your chickens might have made a mess of the waterers, and you’ll want to clean them up as soon as possible. 

Are There Heated Chicken Waterers Without Electricity Needed?

Some heated chicken waterers don’t require electricity, such as solar powered heated waterers. Others include battery-powered heaters. You can read this article here for an excellent how-to that breaks down a number of means of keeping your chickens hydrated – and all without electricity!

What About Solar Heated Chicken Waterers?

The simplest solution would be to have a large black tub that is not too tall for your chickens to reach. Place this into the sunniest part of the coop, and over the course of the day, the heat from the sun might prove to be enough to keep your flock hydrated. In colder climates, however, this might not work as well, and alternative heating might be required. 

Are There Do-it-Yourself Heated Chicken Waterers?

There are a number of sources out there across the internet that offer solutions for homemade water heaters. Here’s 2 that we like:

Where to Find Heated Chicken Waterers?

You can usually find them at farm stores, like Tractor Supply. You can also find them on Amazon here:

We hope this information about heated chicken waterers helps you keep your chickens hydrated and healthy, even through the bitter chills have arrived! Stay warm!

Automatic Coop Door Install: Omlet Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door Review

Automatic Coop Door Install: Omlet Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door Review

For this review, we were sent a free Omlet Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door to test. All opinions are our own and represent our own experience with this product.

 

In this article, we’ll show how we installed the Omlet Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door in a coop we built ourselves.

 

(We reviewed the automatic coop door when it’s installed in an Omlet chicken coop here.)

 

Below are our results, how we installed it, and overall recommendations! 

 

What it is

The Omlet Universal Automatic Coop Door is a heavy-duty plastic automatic coop door, frame, motor, and programming panel unit. You can install it in your Eglu Cube or on your own chicken coop (we show you below how to install it on your own coop). If your chickens free range, you can also install the door to hardware cloth and other wire so your chickens can easily access your lawn.

 

omlet automatic chicken coop door grey

Manufacturer’s image

 

Omlet’s Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door comes with all the necessary hardware to install it – all you’ll need is a screwdriver. The programming panel requires AA batteries.

 

The panel can be set to open and close at a specific hour, or you can use the light setting to close at dusk and open at dawn. This setting will naturally follow the seasons – no additional programming necessary. You will still need to replace batteries regularly.

 

This product retails on the Omlet website for $189.99, with free shipping.

 

Where to Buy Omlet’s Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door

You can purchase this door on Omlet’s website here (and shipping is free – always a good thing!).

 

What the company claims

Quoted directly from the Omlet website:

  • Powered by battery
  • Can be installed in any coop
  • Easy to install, no maintenance required
  • Operated by light sensor or timer
  • Built-in safety sensors
  • Reliable in all weather conditions
  • Improves coop security and insulation

 

Installing the Omlet’s Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door Into Our DIY Coop

We built this duck coop a while back, and were super excited to receive the Omlet’s Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door to test! Ducks tend to have a harder time getting in and out of our coops (they can’t jump a well as chickens, and don’t have quite the same leg strength). So, we needed a safe and easy way for them to get in and out of their new home.

 

Coop security is also a big concern – while our existing coop is predator proof, we need our new coop to also protect our ducks. Unlike chickens, ducks can’t roost or fly away from predators. At the same time, especially during the summer, they can’t be locked up in their coop for hours after sunup – it’s too hot!

 

So, the Omlet Universal Automatic Coop Door is a great solution to several problems on our farm. We can program it to open and close at specific times, and our ducks can have access to their run – long before we’re awake!

 To install the Omlet’s Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door, we used:

 

  • The door kit Omlet sent us
  • An electric screwdriver
  • A sawzall to create a door opening

 

automatic coop door

Unwrapping the door from its box

Creating a door opening

To install the door kit, you’ll first need to create a door opening (this is where your ducks will actually exit the coop). To make this super easy, just trace the door opening in the Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door.

automatic coop door install

We used a marker to trace the size of the door

 

Then, use the sawzall to make the opening.

automatic coop door

The finished door opening:

automatic coop door

Naturally, my daughter had to “help out”

Installing the Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door kit

The kit comes with all the hardware you’ll need. For this part, we followed the directions in the instruction manual that accompanied the door kit. They  were easy to follow – so installation only took a few minutes. 

Programming the Universal Automatic Chicken Coop Door

While the sunlight feature is a nice option, because our ducks need to be herded into the coop every night, we programmed the door to open and close at specific times so we could better plan our day. (For more information about the daylight setting, please consult Omlet’s website here).The keypad took a bit of reading the instructions and getting used to the different buttons, but once we figured it out, programming the door was a snap. 

 

automatic coop door programming panel

The programming panel. It’s weather-proof!

 

The finished install:

automatic coop door

We did it!

Does Omlet’s Automatic Coop Door live up to its claims?

Yes! This door is very easy to install in any coop, and the door operates as expected. Our ducks figured out how to use it, and we’re happy to know our ducks are safe and sound at night.

 

What we like

Door frame means easy installation with better security

We love how easy this was to install and that’s because it comes “pre-hung” with a door frame. It’s also an added safety feature: without a frame, it’s easier for predators and scavengers to maneuver around the door and enter your coop.

 

Better predator control

The door can’t easily be moved by predators. In some systems, predators like raccoons can easily lift the door. We’ve also had doors that don’t close all the way due to dirt build up. That does not seem to be the case with the Omlet Automatic Coop Door. 

 

Competitively priced

While we received this product for free to test, I would have bought it anyway. The price of $189.99 is very reasonable, and less expensive than other similar products on the market. As far as DIY coop doors go, it’s well worth the investment for some peace of mind!

 

What don’t we like

There’s nothing we really don’t like about this system. But there are some things to watch out for (read below).

 

Is it useful for chicken owners? 

Yes! Your flock will love this automatic coop door. We recommend Omlet’s Automatic Coop Door for flocks of all sizes and ages (just know that you’ll have to teach young chicks and ducklings to go into the coop before the door closes). The best part is that it automates opening and closing the coop, so you can sleep soundly at night and not worry about predators!

 

What to watch out for:

Be sure to install it on thicker wood, or have metal cutters handy

We noticed that some of the screws are very long – about 4” long. After installing the automatic door, the end of the screws were visible on the outside of the coop, which can be dangerous. To remedy this, we had to remove the extra bit.

 

Door might be a bit small for some ducks, or a mass exodus

The door opening is quite small – it’s definitely large enough for a single chicken or duck to use. Our ducks like to leave their coop in a mass exodus (meaning, all at once, preferably with lots of arguing about who will go first). It’s impossible for more than one duck to use the door at the same time. So, if your ducks are similar, be prepared for some loud, angry quacking. 

 

Do night check for stragglers

Because the door automatically closes, you’ll have to check for stragglers. Another option is to have the door close well after dark (say, 30 minutes). In areas with a lot of predators, this isn’t ideal, however, so my recommendation is to just do a night check and herd in any latecomers.

 

Summary

The Omlet Universal Automatic Coop Door is a great addition to any coop, and your flock will love it!

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Can Chickens Fly? Yes….And No.

Wondering “can chickens fly?” Well, like most things with chickens: it depends.

 

Some chicken breeds can fly and some can’t. And even within a specific breed, some individual chickens can fly, and some cannot.

 

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at the question “can chickens fly!”

 

What Is A Flightless Bird, Really?

Flightless birds are comparatively rare – there are only about 60 species of flightless birds on Earth. One of the most iconic of flightless birds, the ostrich, is the largest bird and can run at speeds upwards of 40 mph (64.37 kph). 

 

These massive runners live in Africa, and use their 2-inch diameter eyes to spy out threats like lions, leopards, and packs of hyenas. While it might not be clear when these incredible birds lost their ability to fly, there is evolutionary precedent for this: ostriches are ratite, which is “any bird whose sternum (breastbone) is smooth, or raftlike, because it lacks a keel to which flight muscles could be anchored. All species of ratites are thus unable to fly.” Other ratites are the emu, cassowary, rhea, and kiwi.

 

Right up there with the ostrich as the most iconic of flightless birds is the tuxedo-sporting critter: the penguin. Unlike ostriches, penguins are not ratites. They possess the keel on their sternum to which their wings attach. 

 

Whereas volant birds use their wings for flight, penguins have adapted to underwater explorations, and instead use their wings as fins that allow them to effectively navigate in the waters where their food lives. In a way, because of this adaptation, penguins might be considered volant birds that just happen to fly through a vastly different environment than most other volant birds. 

 

So where does this leave us with pet chickens?

 

Are Chickens Actually Flightless?

So, what does all this say about chickens? Your chickens have all of the right tools for flight. They (generally) have the feathers and the keel on their sternum which their wings attach to, and they certainly have the muscles for it. With all of these details, the question remains: Can chickens fly?

 

Yes, kind of. And it depends on the breed. 

 

All chickens have strong muscles, and flight is one of the few ways this species can keep safe from predators. Most breeds are capable of “burst flights”, which are quick and can carry chickens to safety within moments. At night, as you probably know, they like to fly up to their roosts, which gives them a good vantage point to see if any raccoons, dogs, etc are coming their way.

 

Since they’ve been domesticated, they’ve largely lost this ability. Why is that? 

 

Chickens are most commonly bred for two things: eggs and meat. White meat is muscle, and it’s white meat that our ancestors favored. Selective breeding for meat has maximized the size of our chickens’ chest muscles. In theory, this should make chickens fantastic fliers. In reality, however, this is counterproductive. In order to fly, birds need light bodies with muscles strong enough to carry their own weight. 

 

The ideal flier will have a lean – almost sinewy – body: one that is strong enough to propel itself off the ground and light enough to stay aloft. Sustained flight also requires endurance. Human-bred chickens seldom are bred for strength, leanness, and endurance. 

 

Unlike ostriches and penguins, modern flightless chickens are not tied to the Earth because they don’t have the muscles to fly, but because it’s been bred out of them. In other words: We have bred our birds to be too large to support much of a flying ability. The average chicken can fly for about 10 feet, and about as high off the ground.

 

Being similar in flight skills to game birds, chickens were never the greatest fliers, and lack the skills for sustained flight, but they have been known to fly for as long as 13 seconds and a distance of 301.5 feet. It might be a short flight, but it likely is plenty enough to do its job: to get the chickens away from danger. 


Which Chickens Can Fly?

Larger chicken breeds are far less likely to even hover, as the energy required for even minimal flight can be preventative, but there are a number of breeds that are more inclined to flight:

 

 

are the most commonly known fliers. 

 

They have leaner bodies, and this is better suited for the short flights attainable by chickens. Our own Leghorns love flying into trees. 

 

At night, Araucanas occasionally roost up in the trees. Originally from Switzerland, the Spitzhaubens are a flighty bird that sometimes takes that adjective literally. Thanks to their smaller size, some bantam hens can achieve high heights for roosting purposes or when spooked. 

 

Which Chickens Can’t Fly?

There are some breeds that, no matter what, simply won’t get liftoff. Either they lack the feathers, or are just too dang heavy.

 

Some breeds, such as Silkies, can’t fly at all – they simply don’t have flight feathers on their wings. To keep them safe, you have to give them a place to climb up to. Ours can get lift off of maybe 12 inches, and that’s pretty much a big jump for a silkie.

 

Our Mille Fleur bantams and Cochin bantams can’t fly either – although they have wing feathers, their wings are too small. 

 

Other chickens, such as Orpingtons or Brahmas, have been bred to be so large, they simply are too heavy to fly.  

 

How Can I Stop My Chickens from Flying?

 

A few times a week, a person in my Facebook group asks how they can stop their flock from pooping all over the neighbor’s yard. There’s some easy ways to keep your chickens from making unwanted visits.

Build a Fence

The easiest way to prevent your chickens from flying away is to build a sizable fence around your chicken coop. This will stop most birds from flying out of their homes. 

 

For the heaviest breeds, you will not need anything taller than a 4-foot fence. For the slightly less heavy – the Mediterranean breeds, for example – you might need to build a 12-foot fence. 

 

Clip Their Wings

If you want to stop a bird from flying, one more adage comes to mind: “clip their wings,” which really means to trim their feathers. 

 

When done correctly, trimming feathers is painless. Once clipped, your chicken’s feathers can’t provide the lift needed for flight.

 

Do you still wonder “can chickens fly?” How far have your own chickens flown? Leave a comment below!

 

20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

Wondering what vegetables grow in the shade? No matter where you might live, it can be tough to find the optimal conditions for growing vegetables.

 

From shade produced by nearby buildings to hefty tree limbs that block out the afternoon sun, finding a garden plot with the perfect amount of sunlight your plants need can be a challenge. However, you don’t need to move mountains in order to grow a productive garden. 

 

Instead, you just need to consider these vegetables that grow in shade. 

 

What is Considered “Shade”?

There are essentially three different sunlight settings that can describe how much light your plants will get during the growing season. 

 

Full sun refers to areas that receive direct sunlight for a  minimum of six hours each day. Usually, this will be sometime between the hours of 10 am and 6pm. 

 

Partial shade, on the other hand, refers to areas that receive three to six hours of sun each day. This can include areas of filtered or dappled sunlight, even if it’s just during a short window each day. 

 

Full shade areas receive no direct sun or even any reflected light during the day. It can be pretty tricky to grow any kind of vegetable in full shade (after all, every plant needs light to grow)- as a result, most of the plants we will recommend in this article should be considered for partial shade instead. 

 

Top 20 Vegetables That Grow in Shade

When you’re looking for the best vegetables to grow in the shade, you will want to consider plants like leafy greens (which are sensitive to the sun) and root vegetables, that can tolerate some partial shade as well. 

 

Here are some of the top vegetables that grow in shade. 

 

Beans

Beans require very little work to grow, which is probably why they are found in just about every gardener’s plot. In addition, they grow well with moderate amounts of daily shade. With so many different types of beans to choose from, they’re a smart choice for your shade garden for sure. 

 

Arugula

One of the fastest-growing leafy greens, arugula is a great option for your backyard shade garden. Although not everyone will be fond of arugula’s musky, peppery taste, it can’t be argued that it performs exceptionally well when grown in partial shade.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli loves being grown in lots of shade. A member of the cabbage family, it really only requires a few hours of sunlight each day along with plenty of water. In some places, you might be able to sneak in multiple crops throughout the growing season, too – just make sure you trim back the flowers so the plant doesn’t bolt on you.

 

Beets 

Beets are one of the best cold-hardy crops you can grow, but they are also one of the best vegetables that grow in shade for you to consider, too. Although too much shade can cause your beetroots to become a bit tiny, the greens will still produce remarkably well. Plant beets in succession for a continual harvest and make sure you keep them well-watered!

 

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts – you either love them or you hate them. These plants are fun to watch as they mature and they will do so quite well even in the shade. Brussels sprouts grow well into the cold season and actually prefer being grown in cooler weather. 

 

Spinach

Spinach can be grown with just a few hours of sunlight each day. Because it is a cold-loving plant, it even grows well in the waning daylight hours of fall and spring. NOt only is spinach an excellent salad green, but it can be used in a variety of cooked recipes, too. If you start planting early, you can plant in succession for a crop all season long.

 

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is a colorful beauty for you to consider in your backyard shade garden. Preferring partial shade, this plant is biennial – you can overwinter it to grow it a second year. Chard is easy to grow and requires minimal maintenance, making it perfect for the inexperienced gardener. 

 

Kale

Kale is another superb candidate for your shade garden. Closely related to cabbage, this plant can also be grown in a container and likes cool soil temperatures and lots of shade. It can even handle a light frost!

 

Collard Greens

Yet another cabbage relative on this list is collard greens. This plant tastes delicious sauteed as well as in a salad. Collard greens require at least four hour of sun each day, so if you have a shadier garden that receives a bit of dappled sunlight every now and then, you’re in luck. This plant also performs well in cold climates.

 

Cauliflower

A very close relative to broccoli, cauliflower also grows well in the shade. It can tolerate a ton of cold and shade. Delicious cooked and fresh, cauliflower should be blanched if you want it to have a sweeter taste.

 

Cress

Also known as garden cress, cress is a rare vegetable that many gardeners overlook when they are considering the major vegetables that grow in shade. However, this is a great option for you to consider if you want another leafy green to dd to the dinner table. Not only does it mature with lightning speeds, but it can also be grown in moist soil and is known for its peppery flavor. 

 

Mustard Greens

Move over, spinach and kale. Here’s a new leafy green to consider growing in the shade. Mustard greens can be grown either in full sun or in partial shade, but since they prefer cooler temperatures, you might want to grow them in the shade. 

 

Peas

Peas do quite well in a partially shady location, primarily because they like being cool. However your timing will be important – you need to make sure you sow your seeds and can get a harvest before it gets too hot. 

 

Endive

Endives perform remarkably well with only a few hours of sunlight each day. This is specifically true if you are growing the plant during the hottest days of the summer – offering shade will prevent the plant from bolting too soon. It can also be grown in a pot!

 

Lettuce

Lettuce is truly a gardener’s staple and is a cool-season green that grows well in partial shade. You can grow it in almost complete shade, too – some gardeners even use shade cloth to prevent it from becoming signed in the summer sun. 

 

Radishes

The humble radish is one of the best vegetables to grow in the shade. Not only does it take up very little space, but it doesn’t like a lot of sun or heat – in fact, it will taste woody if you give it too much sun. 

 

Not only do radishes taste great on their own (and there are so many varieties!) the tops can be eaten, too. Radishes can be grown in the fall and the spring and there are plenty of possibilities and varieties for you to grow. 

 

Bok Choy

Also known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is perfect in soups and salads. It can be grown easily in dappled sunlight or even more serious shade. It requires just two hours of sunlight each day to maintain its deep green leaves. 

 

Green Onions

You might also hear green onions referred to as scallions. These plants grow quickly and are hardy to most conditions. They can be sprouted by soaking the roots in a container of water before transplanting them to partial shade. Delicious in a salad or cooked dish, green onions can sometimes be grown as perennial shade crops, too.

 

Carrots 

Another root vegetable that grows well in the shade is the mighty carrot. Carrots can handle partial shade with grace – if you can provide your carrots with six or more hours of sunlight, they will grow more rapidly, but you can also grow them in the shade. You just might have to wait a bit longer! 

 

Potatoes

Potatoes need at least five hours of sunlight if you want large tubers. However, if you have a shadier spot, feel free to give them a try – you might end up with great boiling potato at the very least! They don’t, however, n eed super hot weather to grow – potatoes prefer soil temperatures in the 40s and 50s. 

 

Tips for Growing Vegetables in the Shade

Invest in Your Soil

The key to growing healthy vegetables, but particularly vegetables that grow in shade, is making sure you have good soil that can actually support plant life. If you are already going to be challenging your crop to grow with minimal sun, it’s super important that your plants have fertile soil that is well-draining and not compacted. Add some compost to help improve your structure and soil fertility.

 

Moderate Moisture

Don’t water your shade garden like you would water a garden in full sun! Moisture won’t evaporate as quickly, so you won’t need to water your garden quite as frequently. If it’s near trees, however, you will need to water a bit more since your vegetables will be competing with the trees for water. 

 

Keep an Eye Out For Pests 

Certain pests are opportunistic little buggers and will seize any opportunity they can get to attack your plants. Shady areas also tend to be a bit cooler and isolated, making them the perfect habitat for shade-loving (but crop-destroying) creatures like snails and slugs. 

 

Prevent Diseases

Just as you will need to monitor the moisture levels in your vegetable garden in the shade, you will also need to be mindful of moisture. You are more likely to suffer from various fungal diseases like powdery mildew, when you are gardening in the shade because your plants won’t have as much opportunity to rid themselves of excess moisture. 

 

Think About Maturation Times 

There are plenty of vegetables that grow in the shade, but it’s important to remember that they won’t grow exactly like their sun-loving counterparts. You may find that your plants take a bit longer to mature than what you see noted on the seed packet.

 

Start Your Seedlings Indoors

Starting seeds ahead of time indoors is a great way to give them a jump start before they need to be in the shade. You can start your own transplants and plant them whenever the ground has warmed.

 

Plant in Succession 

Not sure how well your shade garden is going to perform, or concerned that your plants will take longer to mature? Don’t worry. All you need to do is plant succession. This will allow you to reap multiple harvests of the same crop despite the delays related to the shade. 

 

Grow the Right Plants 

Don’t try to grow plants that are adapted to full sun conditions when you only have partial sun available where you’re trying to garden. Crops that demand lots of light, such as blossoming plants like tomatoes and peppers, will not do well in a shady environment no matter how much you build up your soil ahead of time. 

 

Modify Your Environment 

Consider pruning low tree branches or thinning out tall limbs to let more sunlight pour into your garden. You can also paint nearby surfaces white to reflect more light back onto your garden. You can also use a reflective mulch to serve this purpose. 

 

Grow in Containers 

Growing in containers is a great way to accommodate for an overly shady garden. Not only will you be able to move your plants as the seasons change, but you can bring them inside once the weather cools, too.

 

Why You Should Consider These Vegetables That Grow in Shade

If you have a shady garden and think you can’t successfully grow vegetables, think again. A partially shaded garden not only allows for a longer growing season for cool-season crops (like broccoli) but the shade can also protect your plants from the hot rays of the summer sun. 

 

Shade-grown vegetables also taste better. They tend to be more succulent and less bitter, since they haven’t had to spend all of their energy staying cool. 

 

Consider these tips and order your seeds . There are plenty of vegetables that grow in the shade – and now that you’re no longer in the dark, you should start planting as soon as possible.