I am way behind the power curve when it comes to gardening – both in terms of planting seeds this spring and in terms of my life experience of growing food, but that makes me even more determined to get on with it!
I have already put a few strawberry transplants in a little window box on my deck and can do no more than wait for the rain and sun to do their thing and wait for a harvest of juicy berries.. fingers crossed we will have a tasty crop for my kids to devour, they do love their strawberries.
Our garden doesn’t get too much sun thanks to our position amongst some very tall trees. A beautiful canopy is sprouting to life, which is ideal for a shade-lover like myself, but doesn’t help much when it comes to the vegetable patch.
So I have been looking for advice online and thought I would share some of the wisdom I found online about growing vegetables in the shade.
Whilst it seems as though few things will grow very well in complete shade, if you have at least a few hours of sunshine a day, then you should be able to produce a decent harvest.
Mother Earth News provided me with a great rule of thumb; think in terms of leaves and roots. In other words, crops which we grow for their leaves (kale, lettuce, spinach) and those we grow for their roots (beets, carrots, turnips) will apparently do fairly well in partially shady conditions. So those crops that we grow for their fruits — such as eggplants, peppers and tomatoes — really do need at least six hours of full sun per day.
Six hours is definitely more sun that we will get in our back yard, so I have a plan to exchange seeds and produce with family members who have more direct sunshine. We will produce the leafy greens and hopefully they will grow some tomatoes! It remains to be seen whether my strawberries will be a success.
This link will take you to a fairly comprehensive list of shade tolerant vegetables for reference. http://www.motherearthnews.com/shade-tolerant-vegetables-zm0z11zsto.aspx#ixzz1tvA3p53R
Another article I found on Mother Earth News gives more detail about the different kinds of shade you might experience in your garden and what steps you can take to increase the light (for example using reflective mulch or painting a nearby wall white).
We plan to use raise beds, which is recommended by many gardeners as it provides space to use additional high quality potting soil, as well as helping to avoid some of those nearby tree roots which will steal water away from your crops. You can even line the bottom of the beds with carpet or something similar, to further prevent the roots from invading.
My organic seeds should be arriving in the mail any day now and I will be germinating them in a seed tray before planting them out. I will endeavour to post pictures of my garden as it comes to fruition and welcome your comments about your own gardening efforts! Growing your own organic vegetables and fruit is a fantastic way to avoid genetically modified food and pesticides from your diet!