Unfortunately, sun loving, fruiting crops, such as Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Aubergines, are never going to thrive in shade. But, the good news is that there are plenty of other tasty Veg and Herbs that are worth growing even in shady areas! By working out how much shade you have and choosing your crops carefully, it is achievable to grow more Veg than you might think. We've put together 5 of our best crops for all the gardeners with shady areas.
What crops can be grown without direct sunlight?
Swiss Chard is a delicious alternative to Spinach, is really easy to grow and fairly low maintenance too. As long as it gets 2 - 3 hours a day of direct sunlight, growth may be slow but you'll still get a good harvest. Packed full of vitamins, the leaves make a colourful addition to stir-fries and soups, and very young, tender leaves are great in salads. One of our favourites is Swiss Chard Bright Lights, a striking looking plant with stems that vary in colour from red, pink, white, violet and golden yellow. Good for a late autumn harvest.
Read our Chard growing guide HERE for more tips.
Next up we have Leeks, they do require some sun to ensure a good crop, but they can cope with shade. If you have a spot in your garden that gets morning sun and afternoon shade, give them a go. We find that home grown Leeks are far tastier than shop bought and provide so much variation in the kitchen. They're easy to grow from seed, and if you sow at intervals from February to April, you can harvest them from late August through to winter until the following February.
Take a look at our Leek growing guide HERE.
A must have in your home grown vegetable collection, Kale. This hardy crop tolerates light shade but remember that it doesn't like to be waterlogged. Sow outdoors from March to June as a salad crop (no need to thin, just pick and eat) or from March to June for mature plants (thin out to a spacing of 45cm). We love Dwarf Green Curled Kale, with its curly green leaves it's well known for attracting bees. A top tip for you is to leave a few kale plants to flower which provides a vital source of nectar and pollen for early bees.
Take a look at our Kale growing guide for more info HERE.
This odd brassica, Kohl Rabi looks like it should come from outer space, but don't let this put you off. It has a delicious smell and nutty flavour. More drought resistant than most brassicas, it succeeds where swedes and turnips fail. Sow Kohl Rabi seeds little and often, when temperatures are 10°C or above, and water plants regularly. They grow equally well in full sun and partial shade. They don't like dry soil however so if that might be a problem on your plot, position them in partial shade where the soil will remain moist for longer.
In need of some more tips, check out our Kohl Rabi growing guide HERE.
And last, but certainly not least, we have Mint. From a refreshing tea to a classic sauce for roast lamb and new potatoes, Mint is one of the most useful culinary herbs. The flowers are also good for attracting beneficial insects into the garden, such as hoverflies, lacewings and butterflies. They produce better crops if not exposed to midday sun, and are less likely to bolt (when a plant goes to seed prematurely) into flower. Just to note, Mint likes shade, but its flavour may be less intense than in the sun.
Sow there you have it...5 great crops that anyone with shady areas can grow and enjoy.