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January 2018
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Episode 155 Gardening in the Shade

It might seem as basic and obvious as saying to someone use the sunny areas but a lot of us look at shady areas as wasted areas.  We don’t want to plant a garden there.  We don’t want to put livestock there.  But why?

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First of all there’s the myth of full sun.

Full sun – 6 hours of direct sunlight – that’s all!

Partial sun – 3 to 6 hours.


Shade has a lot of advantages.

Shady areas stay wetter. Shady areas stay cooler.  Quickbolters don’t bolt.  So in the late fall/early spring this isn’t a great place but in the mid summer times this is where it’s at. Value the marginal areas. Plus it keeps the gardener cooler!

What plants do good in shade?  Many people have this assumption that plants need full sun and if they could literally keep them in sun 24 hours a day they would but the plants would not thrive and would very likely die.  Just as we need sleep to recharge our brain and without light and dark we’d lose our mind a bit.  It’s the same way with plants.

There are tons of plants that do well in partial shade. The thing about full shade is that is almost never exists year round.  There are always spots that get mottled sun or partial shade.


Blackberries, Ribes – currents and gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries to a degree. ginseng

Trees – pawpaw – full sun for best fruit production but planted in the open is a recipe for disaster.  When young the trees will get scorched and die.  They are meant to grow in the woods under shade.  They have large leaves that need windbreak.  Best bet is to use in a mottled sun location or open up the canopy and use your open areas for fruit trees that can survive cooler and stronger winds (not to mention…actual sunlight!).

Annuals – Lettuce, spinach, root crops, kale, parsley, oregano, peas, brassicas, mint

Mushrooms – shiitake, maitake, king stropharia, etc.

What about livestock – YES

Rabbits in particular need the shade especially in the Summer.  Undulates like goats, sheep, cows.  Pigs will get sunburnt!  Chickens often find the shade as well.

Some tips –  Realize that shady areas may not be during the winter/fall.  Use tree cover to shade in the spring/summer and to let sun in during fall/winter.

For things that require some sun, take advantage of what you get.  Morning sun is usually better than afternoon.



7 comments to Episode 155 Gardening in the Shade

  • Leola

    Hi Jason,  We are just in the process of planning and building our vegetable and fruit garden.  There is a shaded spot we hadn’t decided what to do with.  You gave us some good ideas and a good way of looking at the fact that less is better than no harvest.  Thanks!

  • Ourfriendadam

    Great podcast, Jason. Shade is teaching me to be content with what I have. I’m not being a very good student, but I’ll have to learn. We live on an acre of land, which is plenty of room for the garden, but about 100 years ago, someone decided to plant live oaks on the south side of the land. We’ll have to see how the shadow maps change as the days get longer, but I’m optimistic that all my summer veggies will get enough sunshine once the sun starts climbing above those tall oaks.

  • Jason

    Thanks!  Your situation is a little like mine.  I’m caught between keeping enough forest and opening it up enough for a garden.  In the winter I get about 5 hours of sun.  In the summer I get about 8.  I’m pretty happy with that, but we’ll see how it goes!


  • Jason


    I’m glad to hear you found the podcast useful.  You’ll have to let us know what you plant in the shade and how well it works!

  • Jaben Carsey

    I went back and listened to the Shiitake mushroom apisode right after this one.  I tend to listen in clumps, and those two got me really excited about possibilities under some nice existing trees.  My problem is that I do not have any good source for logs.  Have you tried any of the other mushrooms that grow on straw or wood chips?

  • Anonymous


    I haven’t tried them but winecaps (king stropharia) are supposed to be awesome in either substrate.  You can also bag up wood chips and use them for oyster mushrooms I believe.