Many vegetables thrive in the part shade, especially in the hot summer months. Gardeners often grow lettuce and other leafy greens in the shade of squash leaves or under large bush bean plants. Garden spots that are shaded in the afternoon by trees or walls offer vegetables protection from wilting. Vegetables in part shade thrive when they are cared for using organic gardening methods such as compost, mulch and organic pest controls. There are several types of vegetables to choose from.
Lettuce and Spinach
The University of Minnesota's Extension information on shade gardening has determined that vegetables grown for their leaves are a better choice than those grown for their "fruit or roots." Heirloom lettuce varieties such as 'Four Seasons' can be fast maturing as well as shade tolerant. 'Four Seasons' is a classic butterhead lettuce with deep red upper leaves that comes to the table in 60 to 70 days. 'Sucrine' lettuce combines the characteristics of romaine and butterhead and is cold tolerant.
Spinach is treated the same as lettuce grown in part shade. Give a side dressing of compost when plants reach 3 to 5 inches. 'Bloomsdale' is the traditional spinach variety with savoyed leaves. For an unusual spinach, try 'Beetberry' which has small sharp-edged leaves and red berries at the juncture of each leaf and stem. It does well in part shade and comes to harvest in 60 to 70 days.
Chard and Kale
Chard and kale are hardy annual greens that grow well with afternoon shade or in the shadow of taller vegetables, such as corn and squash. Shaded vegetables need to be checked for soil moisture as frequently as those in sunny locations. When topsoil is dry to the touch, it's time to water. Chard stalks can be white, yellow or red. 'Bright Lights' contains all three of those varieties in one seed packet. Another traditional variety of chard is 'Fordhook Giant' which has dark green savoy, crinkly leaves. Chard is resistant to disease and harmful pest infestations.
Kale grows in a similar way, hardy in the shade as well as sun. The 'Lacinato Blue' kale is a biennial and will stay in the garden for two years or more. It is hardy in cold weather and the flavor becomes sweeter after the first frost.
Beet Greens and Rhubarb
'Lutz Salad Leaf Beet' grows easily in part shade and produces chard-like leaves you can use as a braising or salad green. Plant this beet green two months before harvest time, but pick the leafy greens individually as it grows. 'Yellow Intermediate Mangel Beet' is an heirloom variety, which means it has had at least 50 years of collected seed unchanged. It has orange, yellow tapered roots and the leaves are used like chard and kale.
The traditional rhubarb variety known as 'Victoria' produces long, red, tart stalks from spring to mid-summer. Its broad leaves make it a good choice to shade smaller, tender lettuce plants. It grows easily in a shaded garden spot where it will reproduce by crown division. You can grow rhubarb from seed, but it's easier to plant from crown divisions, which you can buy through mail order from many seed companies.