Sunday, July 29, 2012

Made in the shade

Ever wonder if you can grow any veggies in the shade, or at least in part shade? You might be surprised! I read something a while back that helped me remember what goes where: If you grow it for the root or the fruit, full sun. If you want the leaf, part sun is enough.

So for example, tomatoes, peppers, corn, broccoli, squash, and beans need full sun. Oddly enough, peas grow great in part shade, as shown by the plants that are almost as tall as my fence already! But so do spinach, chard, kale, and lettuce. Even winter squash was on the list of part-shade plants. However, I'm not convinced about that one yet. Cucumbers are also supposed to be ok with part shade, although mine are all doing poorly this year - they keep getting drowned!

Here's a few things I've learned in the past couple years that might not fit very well into any paradigm, but have worked for me! Because I use the square-foot gardening method in my raised beds, my plants are VERY closely spaced. Last year I had carrots that ended up being underneath my summer squash leaves, but they still ended up quite large. Perhaps they would have been larger in full sun, but they were big enough for me! Another thing that works well is to plant lettuce seeds near your squashes. They'll take off well in spring with full sun, but then, as the sun gets hotter in summer, the leaves will shade them so they won't bolt. I'm still pulling up the last of the lettuce I seeded in the end of April!

Everything against the fence mostly gets just morning sun. You can't see it all because the giant lovage plant is in the way, but there's rhubarb, chives, garlic, peas, several leafy plants, and a few perennials. And given that they all have fairly crappy soil (it's mostly overturned sod with some manure worked in), things are looking better every year!

The same spot when I first planted it just 2 years ago!

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