Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Shade tolerance of plants
"Root or fruit, in full sun for the biggest loot. Leaf or stem, partial shade will do for them."
Some of the most shade tolerant plants include all lettuce varieties, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, endive, maché (corn salad), and turnips when grown for their greens. These vegetables also tend to prefer cooler temperatures. Because of this combination, it is possible to plant them very early in the spring as soon as the soil becomes workable. During this time of year, days are still quite short so planting them in a location where they will have sun all day is of little concern. As days get longer and temperatures rise, they will do much better under a little protection. One choice is to plant them near a tree; in the spring before the trees leaves have grown in the plants will receive adequate light and enjoy the cool temperatures. As the tree blooms it will provide shade as the days get longer and temperatures rise. This can delay bolting by several weeks, increasing yields.
Broccoli, radicchio, Swiss chard, kale, horseradish, carrots, beets, and most cabbage verities are also among the most shade tolerant vegetables requiring only 4 hours of sunlight per day (though most would prefer 5 hours). You might also be surprised by how well beans, peas, and even cucumbers will produce under shady conditions. Most vegetables listed here also prefer cooler temperatures with the exception of beans and cucumber which do not tolerate even near freezing temperatures. For beans and cucumbers, try planting them as you harvest your cold hardy crops from the first group.
One thing I cannot stress enough: TRY IT. I once had a volunteer melon that started growing by my front porch. The porch shaded the plant nearly half the day and I never expected it to survive. Not only did it survive, but it produced some of the sweetest melon I have ever eaten. I have also heard stories of tomatoes growing under the shade of a tree that produce just as prolifically as their full sun counterparts. I wouldn't bet the farm on it and plant 2 dozen pepper plants under the deep shade of an oak tree, but what's the harm of planting 1 there? And if you're using open pollinated seeds like I suggest, you can save the seed from those plants that tolerate the most shade and expect similar or better results year after year.
You simply can't beat that.
The Ohio Homesteader
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