February 18, 2023

Can I still grow vegetables and herbs if my garden is shaded?

A lot of people are planning their gardens for growing some food now. You might think that you can not grow vegetables in your garden due to shade.  Luckily , there are some vegetables that prefer not to be in the full sun light in the height of summer, or can grow in partial shade, but they just grow a bit more slowly. Often buildings. fences, and trees will form shadows in gardens for part of the day as the sun travels from East to West, but as long as a garden is getting 3 to 6 hours of  sunlight a day, or has dappled light through the trees,  I find that many vegetables will still grow.  Areas that receive no direct, or reflected sun, are not suitable for growing vegetables at all.  All types of vegetables, or herbs, need some sunlight to flourish.  I have areas in my garden that are shaded some of the time or shaded in the afternoon or morning as I have large stone walls and some trees.  I still manage to grow a lot of our food,


Root vegetables do not mind shaded areas as their leaves, that have contact with the sun, are often large.  These include crops like potatoes, carrots or beetroots.  Vegetables that form fruit from blossom prefer very sunny areas and are less likely to thrive in a shady environment.  These include vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and courgettes. Leafy crops that do well in early spring when it is cool, for instance, pak choi, rocket, spinach, or lettuce, will often last for a longer season in shady areas as they will not bolt as easily.  The shade also prevents the leafy vegetables from going bitter.  Swiss Chard is another leafy vegetable that can tolerate shade.


The following vegetables can all grow well in partial shaded gardens: –

Radishes, potatoes, beetroot, carrots, chard, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, parsnips, turnip, kohl rabi, sprouts, pak choi, rocket.  Leeks can also tolerate more shade than other members of the onion family, but they like to have some sunlight in the morning.

Beans and peas can grow in the shade but only if they have a trellis or structure which will help them reach for the sun. It does not matter if their roots are in a shady place.


The following herbs will grow well in partial shade :-

Parsley, mint, lemon balm, rosemary, horseradish, chives, basil, lovage and chervil


  • Vegetables grown in shady areas often take longer to grow as they mature at a slower rate.  To improve the chance of a good harvest, start the seeds inside where they have a lot of light, and transplant into the shaded area as they outgrow their pots.
  • The soil needs to be rich and full of nutrients, and by adding organic matter like leaf mould or rotted manure, you will improve the drainage and help to warm up the soil. If the shaded area is full of tree roots grow the vegetables or herbs in containers or raised beds for the best chance of success.
  • Don’t over water as, without sun, the soil will not dry out as quickly unless there are lots of tree roots.  If the ground is full of roots, and the tree forms a canopy, you might find that you have to water more often as rain will not fall easily onto the ground, and the vegetables will be competing with the roots for the moisture.
  • Regularly check for pests such as slugs and snails, as they love damp, cool, dark places and so a shady part of the garden is an ideal breeding ground.  Use deterrents like gravel, egg shells, soot and mulch to help deter pests.
  • Shaded areas are often cooler and the soil takes longer to warm up in the spring.  Delay planting for a few weeks longer than you would in a sunny garden to make sure that the soil is at a reasonably warm temperature to eithers sow your seeds, or transplant your seedlings.
  • Add mirrors to the walls to reflect light into the vegetable growing area (be careful as these can be a fire hazard if placed in direct sunlight).
  • Paint surrounding boundaries, like fences, white or a light colour to increase light in the area, as it will be all absorbed by dark boundaries.
  • Grow some shade tolerant flowers to increase the chance of insects pollinating your vegetables.
  • I grow in containers, or pots, as it means that I can move them around to the areas that receive more sun throughout the day.

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  1. Masha White February 18, 2023 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Great article.

    • ToniG February 19, 2023 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      Thanks and thank you for taking the time to comment

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