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Shaded Backyard

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Posts: 3914
Location: Zone 9b
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I have a giant redwood tree in my urban backyard that causes a lot of shade. What are peoples experience with veggies that do well with only about 5 hours of sun? I know lettuce, but what else? I have done a bit of research online but I would like to hear real experiences.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I have a lot of shade in my back yard area but maybe less shade than you have. kale has done ok. I think as my soil improves the kale will be doing better and better. my artichokes have surprised me and done better than I expected but so far we have only had one artichoke to eat. what has really thrived in my back yard is berries. You asked for vegetables but you might consider trying to grow berries. thimble berries are doing really well and we also got some black raspberries that are doing well and red raspberries. we also have wild native huckleberries growing everyplace including in the shade and seem to be doing ok. what has surprised me is that the raspberries that get more shade are actually a lot bigger and are the ones that have berries this first year. also strawberries are doing ok here.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I wanted to reply again and add that we had our trees (we have a lot of bishop pines and many other trees as well) thinned some last winter after a huge branch fell on our deck. we where worried about safety. after having the pine trees thinned we get a lot more light. I don't know if a red wood tree can be thinned to let more light in or not but it could be worth looking into. I love redwood trees they are so magnificent and lovely but they create a whole lot of shade. Wasabi is supposed to have edible leaves. I don't know if they are a tasty green vegetable or not but wasabi likes to grow in deep shade and the entire plant is edible. it is on my wish list. I am planning to get some wasabi plants next year.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1356
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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You can grow everything in the cabbage/kale family, actually just make it all winter/fall veggies.
Lets not forget mushrooms like Pearl and King Oyster, then there is Wine Cap. If you want to do a bit more work you can also do morels
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 180
Location: New Hampshire
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bee chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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I used to have a small urban garden under a maple tree. The garden received 2 to 4 hours of sun due to the tree and building on all but the north side of the garden.

I also had a container garden in the driveway that received 4 to 6 hours of sun a day.


Lettuce, snap peas, bunching onions, basil, pac choi, mint, sage, parsley, rosemary, chives, spinach, kale, parsnips, chard, celery, stevia and arugula all grew in less than 4 hours of light. Many of them took longer to develop but they also bolted later than the neighbors garden.

In 4 to 6 hours of sunlight I grew small tomatoes like Fargo yellow pear, and sub arctic.
Jalapeno and other hot peppers were easy to grow but sweet peppers rarely fruited.
Pickling cucumbers did OK till the powdery mildew got them.
Strawberries were quite happy with 5 hours of sun.
rattle snake pole beans will produce too.

I found that short season varieties were easier to grow because they would take longer to produce due to the lower light situation.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Location: Zone 9b
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Yeah, Meryt I am not sure if I can thin it out. I love redwoods too, but like, who would plant one in a suburban back yard? Ha! They have such enormous roots that the roots get all in people's pipes and stuff. And it would cost around 1,000 to have it cut down, which I don't really want to do either. Wasbi plants? As in the wasabi you use to make the green spicy wasabi that goes on sushi? Ha! That sounds awesome!

Anyway, thanks for all the feedback everyone! I will definitely try some kale and some snap peas. Yum! And parsnips work well? I read somewhere that root vegetables do better in shade. Do you know if this is true? I would love to plant some beets and carrots. I also could possibly be into doing some berries. I just don't have a TON of space and berries tend to take up a lot of that.
 
John Polk
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I also could possibly be into doing some berries. I just don't have a TON of space and berries tend to take up a lot of that.

Wild, untended berries can, indeed be large space takers. I have seen a single, sprawling berry plant taking up ~700 square feet, and producing probably less than a quart of berries. Not an economical use of space.

If space is a limitation, training the berries to a trellis system is a great way to minimize the actual amount of ground that they occupy. Trellising berries also makes it much quicker/simpler to harvest them, not to mention the time savings in pruning. Proper pruning will maximize the output, and keep the plant from becoming a massive space hog that only Br'er Rabbit could penetrate.

By forcing them to grow vertical, this allows you to utilize the space below them for other edible plants.



 
Kate Muller
Posts: 180
Location: New Hampshire
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:

Anyway, thanks for all the feedback everyone! I will definitely try some kale and some snap peas. Yum! And parsnips work well? I read somewhere that root vegetables do better in shade. Do you know if this is true? I would love to plant some beets and carrots. I also could possibly be into doing some berries. I just don't have a TON of space and berries tend to take up a lot of that.


I didn't have any luck growing beets or carrots. I would get lots of greens but no root crop. The parsnip surprised me. I threw the seeds in on a whim and a year later I had parsnips.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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my carrots have done ok. they are small but really yummy. the best carrots I have ever tasted. My carrots do get probably 6 or 7 hours of sunlight but we get so much fog that is only on the days without fog and clouds. I don't know yet if my potatoes will have many potatoes for eating but there is a lot of growth on top. my potatoes are some that we didn't eat soon enough so I tossed them in a 30 gallon fabric planter with some dirt and coir and compost to see if I can get any potatoes from them.
 
A.J. Gentry
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Location: Ohio
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:I have a giant redwood tree in my urban backyard that causes a lot of shade. What are peoples experience with veggies that do well with only about 5 hours of sun? I know lettuce, but what else? I have done a bit of research online but I would like to hear real experiences.


This is a space that I have been gathering some information in for a little while. I have been jotting down shade plants for my zone -- which is zone 6. Most of my list is book / research knowledge. Except for the Jerusalem artichokes. I do have those doing pretty well in the shade.

Prefers Shade:
Paw Paw
Elaeagnus
Laurel Cherry
English Laurel
Black Current
Red Current
Black Raspberry
Bunchberry
Ginseng

Partial Shade:
Jerusalem Artichoke
Sea Kale
Groundnut
Sorrel
Fennel
American Persimmon
Date Plum
Gooseberry
Golden Current
Wax Current
Coffeeberry
Chokeberry
Osoberry
Blueberry
Cranberry
Elderberry
Collards
Chives
Garlic Cress
Oceanspray
Barberry
Lemonade Berry
Indian Cherry
Blackberry
Rhubarb
Fuki
Good King Henry
Goji
Honeyberry
Maypop
Chinese yam
Perennial Leek
Bloddy dock

I found the book Paradise Lot really eye-opening because the authors talk about a lot of stuff that surprised them that grew well in the shade. And stuff that isn't really known for doing well in the shade too.

A.J.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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awesome list!

is the coffee berry mentioned the sort that grows native in california? what is it good for other than as a dye plant? I have coffee berry all over my property and it does indeed grow well in the shade. or partial shade. it seems to come up around fallen trees a lot too.
 
A.J. Gentry
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Location: Ohio
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Meryt - The notes I took were on the California coffee berry. It has a fruit that is edible. I just checked Wikipedia real quick and it says the fruit is edible fresh or dried.

A.J.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Posts: 3914
Location: Zone 9b
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Great list. Thanks AJ.
 
Tom Harner
Posts: 93
Location: St. Louis, MO
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I too have a shady back yard... though I have been focusing on the least shady parts and sorta working my way into the trees. I have never counted the hours of sun/shade but I know that no point in my yard recieves half of a days worth of sun (a few areas get pretty close to half). I have been able to grow more than I expected including a bountiful harvest of tomatoes last year.

I have summarized some of our decisions and results here on permies:
http://www.permies.com/t/23746/gardening-beginners/shady-planning-phase

I hope to be able to continue showing improvements year after year.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I was thinking about this thread the other day and was wondering if the redwood tree could be pruned some to allow a bit more light in. I know in high fire danger areas they prune redwoods to lessen the danger to nearby homes.
 
Tom Harner
Posts: 93
Location: St. Louis, MO
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To answer your original question more directly, we have had success with:

Tomatoes!
Broccoli
Lettuce
Strawberries (limited, probably due to number of plants)
Mints (Chocolate)
Cucumbers
Zuchinni
Cabbage (showing progress in this season)
Banana Pepper (no real luck with bell peppers... yet)
Lambsquarters!
Raspberries!
Wild Plums (no fruit yet, good growth)
Elderberry (no fruit yet, good growth, good flower showing)
Blueberry (mixed results)

That is my year and a half worth of results in a shady garden
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