It’s a well-known fact that all gardeners make calculated use of the sunny areas in their garden to grow their own crop, but it’s important to understand that not all vegetables thrive under the same conditions. Every plant requires a different level of sun-exposure, and it’s not a ‘one-size fits all’ approach.
However, don’t panic if you don’t have direct sunlight all day, shade isn’t something that vegetable growers should fear. In fact, a little shade can be beneficial. With water, seeds, and the right amount of sunlight, you could be reaping the rewards of your edible patch in no time.
The location, layout and aspect of your garden will contribute greatly to your growing season. But, if you’d prefer to have a cosy seating area in your garden’s ‘sunny spot’, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow a successful crop to harvest. If you understand the amount of sunlight a crop needs, you can then organise your garden so that the right plants always get their required daily dose of sun.
There are many types of garden shade, see below to find out more about what conditions crops like:
Full sun: If you’re lucky enough to have a minimum of six hours a day of direct sunlight, that’s called full sun. Sun-loving vegetables include many meal-time favourites, such as corn on the cob, tomatoes, peas, courgettes, green beans, peppers and even pumpkins! What most vegetables have in common is their preference for full sun, but these vegetables will likely be unsuccessful without at least five to six hours per day. This type of garden is often south facing; one of the most desirable aspects around!
Partial sun: Most vegetables would love to sit under the sun all day (who wouldn’t?) however, leeks, potatoes, carrots, beetroots, turnips, and radishes can tolerate a bit less sun, ideally no less than four hours per day. This type of garden is often associated with an east or west facing aspect, depending on size and location.
Dappled sun/ shaded: If your space gets at least three to four hours sun, you can still have a great yield. The best vegetables to grow in the shade often have broad leaves. Similar to large solar panels, they’ll soak up as much of the sun as they can in a short space of time. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, and Swiss chard can struggle in the heat; the leaf tissue can burn with too much sun exposure, which means the shade can offer relief. With just enough sun, you can expect a luscious yield from your leafy greens. This type of garden will often have a north facing aspect.
Sun or shade, there really is a spot for every crop!