A garden that receives between 6-8 hours of sun a day is perfect for growing fruit and vegetables, but if your garden is small there’s only so much room. Luckily, there are plenty of crops that grow just fine in areas that get a little sunshine here and there throughout the day, or filtered light.
Tino’s tips for gardening in part shade
For sites that receive full sun in summer and full shade in winter, you can still sneak in a quick-growing crop of something seasonal, such as lettuce. However, longer-lived plants may not cope with the extremes.
If you’re not sure about the sun’s movements, put plants in pots so you can move them around until you better know the seasonal changes.
Always prepare the soil well, no matter what the light levels. Add plenty of manure and for fast-growing crops such as lettuce, Tino pushes the growth along with a dusting of blood and bone.
The greatest threat to plants in shady areas with low air movement is fungal problems; reduce the risk by generously spacing your crops.
As a general rule of thumb, those with large, thin leaves are more shade tolerant. This includes rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), which likes rich, well-drained soil and protection from the afternoon sun.
Many herbs do well in light shade, including parsley (Petroselinum crispum cv.), and Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum cv.).
Perpetual spinach (Beta vulgaris cv.), which is not an actual spinach but a cultivar from the beetroot and silverbeet group.
Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) may grow more slowly in part shade, but they should be ready to harvest 6-8 weeks after sowing seed.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv.) – Tino plants ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Cos’. Both will grow more slowly in part shade, but you can speed up growth by applying fish emulsion.
Common mint (Mentha spicata) – can do a little too well in shade so best planted in a container to restrict its spread. Pinch out growing tips for a bushier plant with more leaves.
Blueberries (Vaccinium cv.) – Many species grow as understorey plants in their native North America. Blueberries also love acidic soil. You can apply agricultural sulphur to gradually acidify the soil (it takes about a year) or plant in pots with specialty mix designed for acid-loving plants. Plant at least two compatible varieties of blueberry close to each other to aid in pollination
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