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.

20 Vegetables You Can Start In July For A Full Fall Harvest

20 Vegetables You Can Start In July For A Full Fall Harvest

It might be July, and you might be thinking your gardening window has slammed shut, but don’t despair: There’s still PLENTY you can plant for a full fall harvest.

 

(This article is an excerpt from my #1 Amazon Best Selling book Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening. You can grab it on sale on Amazon by clicking here!)

 

We’ve finished harvesting the cool weather crops we planted in March, so there’s lots of space opening up in our garden for a fall garden full of leafy greens, root crops, and more.

 

Our planting season lasts longer than other areas of the country because we can harvest veggies well into November (the temperatures don’t get really freezing until January).

 

Even if you haven’t started a garden at ALL this year, there’s still plenty of options that you can start right now – and they’ll be ready in less than 90 days.

 

In this article, I show you 20 vegetables you can still start in July for a full fall harvest, PLUS which veggies are hardy down to 25 degrees.


Remember: Even if your area has early frosts, you can use a cold frame to keep them growing. In this article, I show you which vegetables do well in cold frames.

 

Not sure what crops to grow in May? Here's a guide!

 

20 Vegetables You Can Plant Right Now

 

You have options for leafy greens, root veggies, and vegetables you can ferment for a healthy snack all winter long (great for kid’s lunches too!)

 

Each vegetable listed takes between 60 to 90 days to mature, so you can expect a reasonably large harvest (depending on how much you plant) by the time frost hits.

 

Here’s what you can plant in July for a full fall harvest:

 

  • Herbs in pots
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Collard Greens
  • Green Onions
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

 

What Vegetables Will Survive Down To 25 Degrees

 

While some of the veggies listed will survive in colder temperatures than 25 degrees (we’ve successfully overwintered spinach without a cold frame), they probably won’t grow too much when the temperatures really dip low and the ground freezes.

 

With the root vegetables, such as radishes, it’s important to make sure you harvest them before the ground completely freezes. You also don’t want the ground freezing and then thawing – that can cause rot.

 

And Remember: You can continue to grow these veggies in a South-facing cold frame well into winter in some areas! Make sure your cold frame gets plenty of light.

 

(In Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide to Backyard Gardening, I share full plans to create your own cold frame out of scrap wood as well as directions to build a hot bed with manure).

 

Vegetables that will survive down to 20 degrees are:

  • Beets
  • Green onions
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Spinach

 

Vegetables That Will Survive a Light Frost (30 degrees or higher)

 

While not all vegetables can survive below 30, there are some that CAN survive a light frost, and are even enhanced by it.

 

Mustard and kale are two leafy greens that actually benefit from a light frost – it enhances their flavor. You can keep them in the garden longer than other vegetables, but once the temperatures will consistently be below 32 degrees, you will want to pull them out of the ground or take your chances in a South-facing cold frame.

 

All the veggies listed in the previous section can survive a light frost. Other vegetables that do well when frost hits are:

 

  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Swiss Chard
  • Broccoli
  • Turnips

 

Get The Most Out of Your Garden: Your Early Spring Planting Guide

Get The Most Out of Your Garden: Your Early Spring Planting Guide

Get out the compost and make those raised beds, because spring is almost here.

 

wpid-cymera_20150125_214214.jpg

My raised beds are ready for dirt and compost!

I’m starting my tomato and squash seedlings indoors, and even starting some crops outside (potatoes, anyone?). Now, before you think I’m jumping the gun, here’s the thing about me.

 

I love kale, and I’m not afraid to say it. 

 

Mix it with some homemade butter and straight-from-the-garden garlic, and I’m set. I start growing it as soon as I possibly can.

 

I can even get my husband to eat it on occasion.


Getting your garden started? Want to reap a better harvest?

YES, I WANT A GREAT HARVEST!


I’ve never been a big fan of radishes and arugula, but I’m starting them soon for the animals, with the hope it will even further reduce our grain expenditures.

 

I’m starting to get the winter blues, so focusing on spring is helping me beat them. And I’m increasing my self-sufficiency at the same time!

 

Here’s a starter guide to the crops you can grow in early spring, for both people and animals.

 

The most important thing I’m doing at this stage (aside from planting!) is using mulch to cover the garden. The last thing I want is late-winter scavengers to snap up the seeds I spent so much time planting!

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_134455.jpgArugula – Sow in the garden as soon as your soil can be worked. They’ll germinate in about 7 days, and ready to harvest in about a month.

 

For a continual supply, succession plant every 2 weeks until high temps will cause the arugula to bolt.

 

Beets – Sow seeds in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant in well-drained, sandy soil. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers as this will encourage top growth at the expense of root development.

 

Aerate your soil for uniform, healthy development. Keep consistently moist. Mulch to suppress weeds.

 

Broccoli – Sow broccoli directly in the garden 4 weeks before your last frost date. You can set out transplants 2 weeks before the last frost date when day time temperatures are between 65 and 80 degrees.

 

Give your plants a boost 3 weeks after transplanting.

 

CabbageSauerkraut anyone? Direct sow in the garden immediately after your last frost date, or plant transplants in the garden 2 weeks before your last front date.

 

Start seeds 6 to 8 weeks indoors before your last front date. Cabbage plants require soil rich in organic matter and consistent moisture.

 

Carrots – Plant seeds about 2 weeks before your last frost date. Carrots need deep, loose soil to form a strong, straight root. Keep the bed mulched to avoid competition from other plants.

 

Avoid forked roots by limiting nitrogen and keeping the bed stone-free. When the seedlings are about 2 inches tall, thin them so there’s 1″ to 4″ gaps between them.

 

You can also use alternate planting to increase your harvest and cut down on thinning. I use pre-planted seeds I created over winter to cut down on thinning.

 

Collards – Collard transplants can be planted 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant in fertile, well-drained soil. Soil rich in organic matter will encourage tender leaves, great for microgreens.

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_133242.jpgKale – A favorite here! You can plant kale about 3 to 5 weeks before the last frost date. Plant in soil rich in organic matter, and cover with cold frames during hard freezes. Great for flavorful microgreens!

 

Kohlrabi – Put out transplants of this funky looking plant 4 weeks before your last frost date. Kohlrabi is related to the cabbage, and can be eaten in similar ways.

 

Mulch or use protection against severe temperatures, and the cool temps will enhance the flavor.

 

Lettuce – The ideal day time temps for lettuce are between 60 and 70 degrees. Lettuce is more sensitive to cold than other cool season vegetables, so be sure to cover during freezing temps.  

 

Fertilize with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Lettuce will grow in partial shade, and does better sheltered from the hot afternoon sun. Romaine is a favorite here (I finally steered my husband away from iceberg!)

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_133359.jpgOnions – Onions can be grown from sets, seeds, or transplants. This year I’m trying both sets and seeds.

 

Plant in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. Mulch to protect from hungry critters and freezing temperatures.

 

Peas – Direct sow in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. They will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40 degrees F.

 

Seedlings will survive a late snow and short periods of temperatures down to 25* F.

 

Potatoes – Plant potatoes when temps rise (if you want a permaculture indicator, plant your seed potatoes when grass begins to grow).

 

I cut my potatoes into 1” pieces with 2 to 3 eyes, you can also plant the whole potato. Soil should be loose, fertile and well drained. Mulch to protect from hungry critters and freezing temperatures.

 

Radishes – This year, I’m doing daikon, french  breakfast, and regular radishes. Sow radish seeds in the garden about 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area.

 

They are ready to harvest as soon as they are of edible size. Succession plant for a continual supply until temps are too high. Try one more than one variety, and see which does best in your garden.

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_134258.jpgSpinach – You can transplant spinach 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area, or you can sow seeds into frozen ground. They will germinate as the soil thaws.

 

Transplants can be set out 4 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Spinach prefers very fertile soil, so plant in soil enriched with compost, or fertilize when the plants are about 4 inches tall.

 

Swiss Chard – There’s nothing better than the gorgeous colors swiss chard brings to your garden. Direct sow seeds 2 weeks before your last frost date.

 

Use pre-made seed tapes, or thin to 6-inches apart when seedlings are 3-inches tall. Water regularly and mulch to protect.

 

Tatsoi – Extremely cold hardy, tatsoi can withstand temperatures down to -15 degrees F. Tatsoi likes rich soil and plenty of moisture all through the growing season, so mulching is best.

 

It’s a very pretty ornamental, so consider growing it in your landscape. Space the initial planting very densely, then harvest entire plants for baby greens, but leave the final survivors to grow to maturity at about 12″ spacing.

 

wpid-cymera_20150210_134358.jpg

Turnips – Plant 2 weeks before the last frost date. Any well-drained soil will do.

 

Consistent moisture is key for healthy root development. Although it is not necessary, the greens will be the most tender if you plant in a fertile soil.

 

Wheat – We’re going to try wheat for the first time this spring. Be sure to use a spring variety (winter wheat won’t produce without some hard freezes) so check that label.

 

Plant when the ground can be worked and after your last frost date. It’s best to use a seed drill, but if you can’t, you can broadcast the seeds and rake them into the ground, making sure to cover with hay or mulch to keep critters away.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Which of these cold weather crops will you plant? Leave a comment below!