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Just Getting Started, Too Much Shade?

 
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I have a small urban home and have decided to start trying to produce our food on it. I'm still trying to figure the ups and downs of getting the soil right. My watering is a disaster. My plants grow slowly and aren't producing much. I'm wondering if our yard has too much shade. We have several trees that we can't take out because of the HOA and the city.
I'm wondering if I should just give up. I'm not sure that what I'm asking from this property is reasonable. Any advice?
 
gardener
Posts: 4314
Location: Missoula, MT US Hardy:5a Annual Precipitation: 15" Wind:4.2mph Temperature:18-87F
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Hi! Welcome to permies, Marlena!

To help us help you, please may you share on permies the city you live in and a few photos of the land you are trying to work with. We can't exactly do much without knowing what kind of climate we're working with.

In the meantime, the Plants For a Future Database may be useful in helping you find plants to use on your site.
 
Posts: 35
Location: Maritime Northwest USA, zone 8b
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Try looking into forest gardens and food forests. You may not be able to produce a lot of certain annual vegetables in the shade, but you could go towards adding fruit and nut trees and supporting plants.
 
pollinator
Posts: 476
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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Welcome to permies

Other food that grows in the shade: mushrooms!

And a variety of animals, particularly rabbits (and chickens, but rabbits are more HOA-friendly). Growing your own rabbit meat, especially if it's grazed on your own property, is much more caloric- and nutrient-dense food than pretty much anything else you could grow yourself. Or if you can get away with a couple chickens, the eggs they lay are a daily delight, and don't require weeding, digging, fertilizing...you get the idea. Animals grow in the shade where other foods do not.

It's also possible to trim trees to let in more light; maybe this is an option for you?
 
Posts: 166
Location: Kentucky 6b
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Embrace the fruiting perennials Marlena! Many of them do just fine in partial shade where most typical garden annuals really won't. As an added bonus you don't have to go through all the work of planting them every year and they'll also work to improve the soil for you. One of the best ways I've found to improve soil is to get as much variety growing in it as you can, nature has a way of patching itself up if you let it. It's also easier to find locally available garden vegetables for sale (farmers markets and such) than it usually is for fruit.

Like mentioned, what general area do you live in? What direction (N,E,S,W) is your garden in relation to your home? There's a bunch of variables at play. Look at small animals as mentioned. They're a great option that most don't consider. You can always get "pet" rabbits, dwarf goats, or chickens.
 
pollinator
Posts: 991
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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What did you end up doing? Roots competing with your garden plants could be more of a problem than the shade. Do you have any walnut or other juglone producing trees? Some plants won't grow anywhere near them. Containers could solve any problems from roots. I like Earth Boxes. On the other hand, the trees could be too thick for their own good. Taking out a tree or two might actually help the remaining trees. Even if that's not the case, it sounds like you could spare one. I agree that trimming would be preferable, but it might not be enough. It depends on what your goals are.

I love trees and have planted more than a hundred, but I am trying to make the limited space of my yard as productive as possible. I started without any trees, so I didn't have to take out any. I would have if it would have been necessary to grow the fruit and nut trees and the vegetables that I want to grow.
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
Posts: 991
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Just read your post again and see you can't remove the trees. If they're that restrictive, can you even have a garden? Are you allowed to plant other trees?
 
pollinator
Posts: 784
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Consider bantam chickens? ;)
 
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