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How to grow vegetables in partial shade

Most vegetables require at least six hours of sunlight a day to grow. If your yard is shady because of buildings or trees, you can still grow vegetables. Plants such as tomato and pepper won't tolerate any shade, as these are heat- and sun-loving plants. Other vegetable varieties can tolerate some shade, so maximising what sunlight you do have is key for success. Choose the right varieties for the shaded areas of your yard, and you can have a successful vegetable bed.

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  1. Choose an area for the garden away from tree roots, as these will rob nutrients from the vegetable plants. The area must receive some sunlight a day, even if it is filtered or dappled.

  2. Till the bed to a 10-inch depth with a hoe or power tiller. Lay a 2-inch layer of compost on the bed and till it in. This adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil, necessary for a vegetable bed.

  3. Choose vegetables that require less light for the bed. Pick from most cool-season vegetables, like lettuce, peas and spinach. These tolerate the cooler, damper conditions in the shade and require less light than summer vegetables.

  4. Space plants as directed on the plant tags. Avoid planting too close together as there is usually less air circulation in covered and shaded areas, which may lead to disease.

  5. Water only as needed, as shaded areas remain damp longer. Water when the top inch of the soil begins to feel dry. Lay down a 1-inch layer of bark mulch to help preserve the soil moisture and limit watering needs.

  6. Use white trellises and plant supports for supporting those plants that require it. White helps reflect more light into the garden bed. Paint fences and other nearby structures white when possible to aid light reflection.

  7. Tip

    Many berry bushes also grow fine in shade. Raspberries, currants and gooseberries are examples. Plant sun-loving vegetables, like tomatoes, in containers placed in a sunny area if you don't have a suitable garden bed.


    Yields will be reduced when growing in the shade. Put in more plants to make up for this or count on less fruit during harvest.

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Things You'll Need

  • Hoe or power tiller
  • Vegetable transplants
  • Mulch
  • Plant supports

About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

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