It is often thought that you had to have full sun to grow your own vegetables. This isn't really true, some veggies will grow with as little as 2 or 3 hours of sun per day. That means direct sunlight shining upon them. Of course, you must still fertilize and water, if you want a good crop.
What are these vegetables that grow is shade, you say? Well, they are the following:
- Broccoli - four to five hours sun
- Beans - four hours sun
- Peas - four hours sun
- Kale - three hours sun
- Leafy Greens - three to four hours sun
- Radishes - four to five hours sun
- Asian Greens - two hours sun
- Spinach - four hours sun
- Most herbs - three hours a day sun
Make sure to follow the directions on the seed packet or plant sets regarding how close together to plant them. Seed packets will also give you information on how much sun a plant needs to grow properly. They can say full sun, partial sun, partial shade or full shade. But what do those terms actually mean?
- Full Sun - at least 6 hours a day, more if possible
- Partial Sun - at least three hours of sun a day
- Partial Shade - no more than 3 to 6 hours of sun a day, preferably in the morning or early afternoon
- Full Shade - Less than three hours of direct sunlight and filtered or dapples sunlight the rest of the time.
The sun is much stronger in the late afternoon, so partial sun plants are better planted in a location that gets late afternoon sun, whereas partial shade plants should be positioned out of the late afternoon sun, if possible. Full shade plants still need some sunlight, no plant does well with no sun at all, other than mushrooms!
If you want more complete information on planting and caring for vegetables, I highly recommend The Vegetable Gardener's Bible This book has all the information you need to grow vegetables, I use mine all the time!
As a rule of thumb, you can loosely go by these numbers:
- 6 to 8 hours of sun - vegetables that bear fruit, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash
- 6 hours of sun - root vegetables, like carrots, potatoes and onions
- 3 to 4 hours of sun - leafy vegetables, like lettuce, kale, spinach and mustard greens
I planted broccoli, peas, and greens in containers this year, and radishes, cauliflower and beans in raised garden beds. They all seem to be doing great, and it's nice to know that some of them can be grown in partial shade. There is nothing quite like growing your own food. Knowing it is pesticide free and not GMO (genetically modified) means a lot to me and I feel good feeding home-grown food to my family.
I hope you enjoy your garden this summer and get a great harvest. I think you will find growing your own food to be very rewarding, not to mention healthy!