Edibles for shade?

foolyap(z5 MA)October 16, 2007

Our yard is extremely rocky, and the small house clearing is surrounded by mature trees that for various reasons won't be coming down.

As a result, the best spot for a vegetable garden is in front of the house, on the north side. Unfortunately, some of this area is shaded by the house itself. This area gets no direct sun, but is a "bright" shade due to open skies above.

Any ideas for edible things that could be planted in these conditions would be appreciated. Preferably low-growing things. I'm happy to consider "unconventional" edibles.

For example, I've never eaten Ostrich fern "fiddleheads", but maybe I should try growing those there?


I thought of ramps (wild leeks), but as those are a spring ephemeral, they probably need some direct sun.

Culantro is one thing I can grow there as an annual that actually seems to want shade.


I could probably grow sweet woodruff in those conditions, but I don't know how much May wine I want to be making.

I figured I'd keep the leafy greens closer to the house, as they'll probably do better that way in the heat of full summer? But I don't think they'll do well without some direct sun.

Thanks, --Steve

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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Doesn't sound like deep shade - I would think leafy greens would do okay there...

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 1:19PM
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Doesn't lettuce like shade?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2008 at 2:25AM
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puddles_of_portland(Zone 8 OR)

**Evergreen huckleberry may not be a zone 5'er.
**Goumi seems to do well in many tough spots, but may produce less fruit (may also be a zone off).
**Chard is a pretty tough annual and seems to do well in a variety of spots.
**Ribes (currant/gooseberries) are tolerant of shade, although they produce more fruit in sun.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 8:53PM
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I have the same problem at my house.
I grew sugar snap peas last year and they were delicious. I planted them again this year and they are already about 4 inches high (in less than 3 weeks!)
Also, not sure if this is going to work or not yet, I have some black plastic down on one of the beds and am going to TRY to grow some bush cucumbers (someone told me they do well in shade, but my garden books say they like warm soil, hence the black plastic)
I aslo read that pumpkins do alright in the shade as well.
I tried lettuce, carrots and radishes last year, but not much success. i think the lettuce may have survived a little better if they weren't digested by an army of slugs.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 11:33AM
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foolyap(z5 MA)

So here's what I'm doing thus far.

Ramps (from http://www.rampfarm.com/ ) planted in a narrow bed parallel to the foundation. Those seem to be thriving in this bright shade, so I will probably let them multiply and may even buy more next year to enlarge the bed.

I am going to buy some culantro seeds and try to get a bed of that going, also immediately next to and parallel to the foundation.

Between those beds and the main vegetable beds, I've reserved a 2-3' wide path hat is heavily mulched for walking. No plantings intended.

The main vegetable beds run perpendicular to the house, and I'm reserving the portions of them closest to the house for leafy greens like lettuces, kales, etc. I think, having observed this space more carefully in the mornings, that I underestimated how much direct and indirect sunlight these spaces receive in the early morning and late afternoon. So I think it ought to be fine for what I'm planting there.

Thanks for the suggestions!


    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 8:03AM
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