Edibles that tolerate some shade

Posted on Apr 14, 2010 | 2 comments

Today’s post is on edibles that can tolerate some shade. It’s a question that comes up in nearly every garden class I teach: What can I grow to eat if I have shade? There’s a surprising number of traditional veggies and herbs that can tolerate some shade. Notice I said “some.” If you are talking about dense, dark shade, these aren’t going to work either and I refer you to those serious ‘shade gardening’ books… But if you are talking some good morning sun, or dappled shade, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, so read on….

Meanwhile, I teach my last garden class of the year at the botanical garden tomorrow (Thursday) evening. I’m excited as always to meet new veggie gardeners but also excited to have the rest of the summer to dig in my own garden! The class is “Organic Veggies for Beginners” and has been great fun to teach.

Here at Larrapin, the new veggie spot is slowing happening, one row-bed at a time. We’re planting each bed as we go, so that is fun to see a young garden slowly creep up the slope…Pictures of this slow progess to come. The pictures above: a tribute to the early spring bloomers, now beginning to fade into the green-green stage of spring. Pictured are forsythia, redbud and flowering pear blooms here at Larrapin.

OK, here’s a list I share in class of veggies, herbs and fruit that can tolerate some shade. Some of these I’ve never tried to grow (or might not recognize at the farmers market) but you may love them. Try them out and see what happens! Remember, nearly all will still require a few good hours of at-least morning sun, or most of the day in dappled-shade to produce. But it’s worth a try. I’ve been surprised at how many plants that traditionally need full-sun, that seem happy, even relieved, to get afternoon shade in the brutal mid-summer Arkansas sun!

Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit that tolerate some shade (Information from the lovely book: Designing the New Kitchen Garden: An American Potager Handbook by Jennifer  Bartley at www.timberpress.com)


Arugula, Beets

Burdock, Cabbage, Carrots, Leaf celery, Chicory,

Chinese cabbage, Collards, Mache,

Cresses, Endive, Escarole, Fennel,

Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks,

Lettuce, Malabar spinach, Mallow, Mizuna, Mustard greens,

Nettles, New zealand spinach, Pak choi,

Perpetual beets, Radishes, Sorrel, Spinach, Swiss Chard,Turnips


Angelica, Anise hyssop, Borage, Chervil, Chives, Ginger,

Goldenseal, Hyssop, Lovage, Lemon balm, Marjoram,

Mints, Parsley, Perilla, Rosemary, Salad burnet,

Savory, Tarragon, thyme


Blueberry, Currant, Elderberry,

Paw paw, Rhubarb, Serviceberry,

Strawberry, Mulberry Trees

Edible Flowers:

Calendula, Johnny jump ups, Nasturtium,

Pansies, Sunflower, violets

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  1. What a nice list, and some of them I have in partial shade now. My garden is fast becoming more partial, dappled shade than not. The book you have cited: Designing the New Kitchen Garden sounds like a winner. I must look for it.

    Looking forward to those pictures of your new garden developing. 🙂

    • Great to hear from you Jenny! With my love of planting trees everywhere, I’m also discovering the shade phenomenon. But I find that with a raised bed on the sunny side of the tree (and maybe a bit of branching-up pruning) that trees and plants can co-exist and all do well. Thanks for stopping by!