How to Grow Produce in Shade Gardens


Produce is a challenge to grow in shady spots. Mushrooms and rhubarb are the only produce that will grow in deep shade, according to Charlie Ryrie, author of "The Country Garden." Vegetables such as tomatoes, green peppers, peas and beans require at least six hours of sunlight a day and won't do well in shade. However, there are some veggies that will provide a crop.

Step 1

Plant leafy greens such as lettuces, kale, spinach and chard. Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are possibilities as well.

Step 2

Start the seeds in pots with new potting soil to protect against damping-off disease. Plant the seeds three or four to a pot. Cover with 1/8 inch of soil. Water until the soil is thoroughly wet and the water leaks from the drainage holes.

Step 3

Place plastic wrap around the pot to keep the moisture in. Place in a sunny window. Remove the plastic wrap when the seeds sprout.

Step 4

Snip off the two weaker seedlings in each pot. Start the process to transplant to the shade garden when the remaining seedlings have at least four true leaves and all chance of frost has passed.

Step 5

Harden the seedlings by placing them in the shade garden for one hour the first day, two hours the second day, three hours the third day and four hours on the fourth day. Plant the seedlings in the shade garden on the fifth day.

Step 6

Trim bushes back as much as possible so that the vegetables are in dappled shade rather than deep shade.

Step 7

Dig a hole in the shade garden for each transplant that is 6 inches deep and wide. Mix in two handfuls of compost and a bit of slow release fertilizer per package directions. Refill the hole so that it is only as deep and wide as the root ball of the transplant.

Step 8

Place the transplant in the hole. Gently press the soil up and around the stem. Water until the soil is wet to a depth of 6 inches.

Step 9

Harvest greens and lettuces when the leaves are from 3 to 4 inches long by snipping them off close to the soil. Don't remove all the leaves from any one plant and it will continue to grow.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check the shade bed during the growing season so the vegetables are not completely shaded.

Things You'll Need

  • Seeds
  • Pots
  • Potting soil
  • Plastic kitchen wrap
  • Shovel
  • Soil amendments


  • "The Country Garden"; Charlie Ryrie; 2003

Who Can Help

  • The Garden Helper: Vegetables
Keywords: veggie shade garden, vegetables in shade, grow lettuce shade

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.