All fruits and vegetables do best when they grow in full sunlight. But a few can tolerate light- to partial-shade conditions and still reward growers with tasty produce. Light-shade conditions occur when areas are darker, but still have some bright light. Perhaps these locations are shaded part of the day, or receive dappled sunlight throughout the day. Partially shaded areas are out of the sun's direct rays most of the day.
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The most successful plants that go in shady conditions are those meant to produce greens. Leaf lettuces, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, mustard greens and beet greens can all be tried in shady garden spots with good results. Sometimes, leaf growth may be thinner and the plant may look less robust than similar ones grown in bright sunlight, but the greens will have no loss of flavour.
Several different kinds of vegetables can also tolerate light- to partial-shade conditions. Beets, for example, can be grown as a source of greens or as a vegetable. Broccoli, beans, cabbage, peas, potatoes, rhubarb, turnips and kohlrabi are other vegetables that grow well in shady locales. Like greens, the plants growing in shade may not look as strong and healthy and may not yield as much produce, but taste is not impaired. The appearance is usually not a sign of disease, but merely a reaction by the plant in response to less direct sunlight, which means less energy for growth.
Fruits are tougher to grow well in shaded areas, but a few actually do quite well without direct sunlight. Typically, bramble-type fruits like blackberries and raspberries find shady spots inviting. Strawberries, currants and gooseberries also do well in shade. Most of the wild versions of these fruits naturally grow in partially shaded locations. As with greens and vegetables, yields may be diminished compared to similar plants grown in sunlight.
Something to consider whether growing greens, vegetables or fruit under shady conditions is what may be producing shade in the first place. If that answer is a tree or large shrub, consider that fruit and vegetable plants may compete for water with the roots of those trees and shrubs. Keeping fruit and vegetable plants well-watered, and surrounding the base of these plants with mulch will help keep them hydrated.
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