Shade covers some of our fields too in early spring.
Plants love sunlight like humans love a good meal. Most garden annuals need at least 6 hours of sun per day for nourishment. No plants can grow in darkness, but fortunately, like humans, different plants have different diets and some are fairly modest.
Gardeners with a shady corner of yard or a porch in a tree's line of shadow - don't despair! Shade has a place in the garden. Partial shade can offer relief for cooler temperature prefering veggies on a hot summer day. It can also create a mildly different "micro-climate" and thus extend the spring and fall harvests of succession plantings. As northern gardeners, we are often guilty of focusing our attentions on heating up the garden, but there are benefits to cooling it off too. Sown in early spring, greens will persevere longer into the hot season if protected by some shade. The same is true for late summer showings for fall harvests. Spinach, for example, can be planted in the fall as empty spaces open up, left over after other vegetables (like carrots or spent tomato plants) have been harvested. It will grow in the shade, then overwinter to re-emerge in early spring.
NOTE: For the purposes of this post, we are writing about open garden spaces that receive 4-6 hours of light per day. Wooded and completely shaded areas are very difficult to grow annual garden varieties in.
Focus on: Early flowers that thrive in early spring. Choose Borage, poppies, calendula, flax, snapdragons, and sweet peas.
Consider: Flowers that grow in containers. Smaller plants can usually tolerant less-than-ideal conditions. Choose Teddy Bear Sunflowers, Sparky French Marigolds, and Variegated Nasturtiums.
Avoid: Heat loving, tall varieties such as Mexican Sunflowers, Skyscraper Sunflowers, and zinnias.
Brings cheer and joy as spring awakens.
Blooms early in shades of pink & red; self sows wonderfully.
Antique flowers that are making a comeback.
A flower mix brimming with varieties that do well in not-so-much sun.
Herbs are the most adaptable! Try them all but note that basil is the most sensitive to lack of sun. It prefers warm, dry conditions.
More than a garnish, this large variety is a bright and tasty herb.
Edible, ornamental, and perennial, these hardy culinary clusters are an easy and essential part of every kitchen garden.
Deliciously scented leaves promote longevity when brewed as tea.
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A welcome perennial herb that attracts pollinators.
The most shade tolerant edibles are leafy greens. They will grow with 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. They can also be harvested at any size, so if they don't receive enough light - pick them young.
*Other Brassicas such as Broccoli, Kohlrabi, and Cabbage will also grow in partial shade.
TIP: Try these varieties in containers and moving them into sunny areas as the season progresses if you have limited full sun space.
A delightful blend of greens and lettuces brighten the salad bowl.
Arugula's punchier wild cousin self-sows and regrows.
An improved savoyed spinach developed by OSA.
Imagine the first harvests with these cool loving spring varieties!