Can Herbs and Vegetables Grow in a Garden with Shade?

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Do Vegetables and Herbs Grow in the Shade?

By: Carol Giambri

Did you ever wonder if you could enjoy healthy eating from a outside garden with a lot of shade.  Or inside your home where there is little sunlight? 

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Red Beets for a Happy, Healthy Liver

This article was triggered by my friend Mrs. A.  Shade is a great thing to have when you want to cool off from the Mile High Denver, Colorado heat where I am.  It's not always a great thing when trying to grow tomatoes or peppers.

I used to wonder if there was such a thing as gardening in little sunlight too.  I  tried it and found that I can for certain plants. However, plants still need a few hours of sunlight.  I live on an acre of land so there is plenty of room to grow flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables. We are lucky to have edible weeds that have their own mind and just pop up.  Most would pull out or spray dandelions and purslane but these are free healthy additions to a fresh salads.

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Indoor gardening…

Did you know you can even garden indoors and grow things like lettuce, spinach, and other veggies that require little room.  Herbs are a wonderful addition to add to any home. Let the kids get involved in growing and "harvesting."  Great way to have kids learn at a young age as a family "project."  Homeschool project perhaps?

Wherever you "plant" know that …


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What grows in partial shade…

Most plants need a few hours of light, but growing things in total shade can be challenging.  Read the seed packages to see the ideal growing conditions and if you have that before buying seeds.  Also the right soil is necessary to get things growing besides water.  I prefer buying organic and that includes soil and seeds. 


Salad Greens, such as arugula, cress and endive. 

Leafy Greens, such as spinach, mustard greens, collards and kale.  

Beans, Beets, Radishes, Peas

Culinary herbs:

While many culinary herbs need full sun, cilantro, garlic chives, chives, golden marjoram, mint, lemon balm, oregano and parsley usually perform well in gardens with shade. 

Health Eating….

Healthy eating can start from your own garden, the farmer's market or a community garden. Try adding some of the colorful vegetables or herbs in your fresh or cooked meals. I prefer to not cook my herbs but to keep the full nutritional value in place.   

Your meal can be like a rainbow with many colors from the garden foods.  As they say and I believe "health is wealth."  It is expensive to try to get well and cheaper to change and eat healthy. 

Reflecting and Acting…

If you thought you couldn't garden in partial shade I hope that this helped you realize there are are herbs and vegetables that grow well in limited light.  Read packages for growing conditions.  I am not talking fruits here but perhaps in a future article. Ready to grow some different color beets or carrots?  You will be surprised at the flavors and colors that are on your plate. You may start eating more veggies this way too.  Get the kids involved.  Remember your dog may want some healthy veggies too. Organic seeds and plants is what I advocate.

P.S. My free kids 7 keys ebook is still available. Let's stay connected this way.

What Did You Think? Please share.

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Carol Giambri is a gardening and health food expert living as a health and green lifestyle specialist for over 35 years.  She sees beauty around her and has her camera always ready as a photo addict.  It can be a dog, fruit, vegetable, cloud or whatever catches her eyes.  She loves saving money and coaching people how to embrace healthy eating and living. 

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra McAllister April 18, 2012 at 3:38 pm

WOW! You always amaze me, Carol! I didn't know that one could grow things inside, let alone in the shade! Love it! Great pics and your information if so valuable! Now, if only I had a spare room to grow all these wondering things! Thank you so much! Love it!

Patricia Ogilvie April 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

thank you Carol!  very helpful as we garden here too – sun/shade/cool/hot – all aspects need review!!  thank you and great job!

Mandy Edwards April 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Great information!  Our yard has a mixture of full-on sun or partial sun during the day.  I admire what you do – I cannot keep a plant alive if my life depended on it!

Sherie April 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Carol, it looks like there are a lot of possibilities for gardening in the shade that I hadn't thought of! Thank you! Once spring actually comes here in Alberta, I can start planning the garden!

Amanda Taylor April 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Thanks so much!!!
~Mrs A

Sue April 19, 2012 at 2:06 am

Great information Carol.  We do gardening just about everywhere and have daughters who love all the different herbs…THANKS for sharing.  Getting very excited about the upcoming season for growing our own produce!

Anita April 19, 2012 at 6:11 am

We have a mix here in our yard. I tend to go to Farmers Markets and buy organic when I can. This is food for thought though :)

Lorrie April 19, 2012 at 6:42 am

Something magical happens when we grow our own food, and with this blog even the urban dweller can have that experience. Thanks, Carol, for another great post worth sharing and saving for future inspiration.

elizabeth April 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

I really enjoyed this when I was younger and have gotten out of the habit of having a garden and miss it. I was raised eating fresh from the garden food and so what is in the stire is hard for me to like :( I am going to get back into gardening dang it! 

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Elizabeth, surely get back into gardening. It is so much fun. And fresh too!

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Lorrie, Glad my posts are inspiring you to even eat healthier whether from your garden or not. Yeah.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Anita, I go to the Farmer’s Market too, to support them, but surely have mine own abundance here. Fun to get out and see what is being sold by others. Maybe I put a bug in your ear to do more at home.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Sue, I’m also excited about upcoming season. Love gardening so much and watching seeds or plants grow up for me to enjoy. Organic always.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Amanda, Thanks for being the Mrs. A.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Sherie, I hope you have a great garden. Just some sun is what you do need for a garden.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Mandy, I am very good with plants. However, my husband hasn’t helped steak up my aloe massive plants and sad to say they are not in great shape. Maybe I need to hire a strong teen for help.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Patricia, Super fun and pretty much there are plants for any season and lighting conditions. Thanks for sharing.

Carol Giambri April 19, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Alexandra, Got some light from the door or window? If so you are in for a treat if you garden. Try it! Fun even if the crop is not massive. It’s also “fitness.”

Tony Taylor April 19, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I really love collardd greens. This was a great post. Now if I could only be patient to grow them.

Dr. Daisy Sutherland April 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

Wow! Thanks Carol for sharing all these wonderful tips…so there's hope for my shady kitchen after all:)

Gretchen April 21, 2012 at 6:46 am

Carol I love your passion about gardening! It is so refreshing and fun! This post is just in time as I plan out my new garden landscape. I've been tossing around the idea of winter gardening as well, so thanks for the pointers!!

Rhonda Uretzky April 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

All my favorites are made in the shade it seems: arugula, beets, peas! Let the sunshine, yes, but it seems that the shadow also knows!

Sue Glashower April 22, 2012 at 11:47 am

Great gardening information Carol! I love gardening and I am excited that it is almost planting time here! Reminds me I should get some of my plants started inside soon!

Suzanne Jones April 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm

The only thing I have ever harvested was tomatoes. I wish I had the time and space for a garden, it would be pretty sweet walking in the back for what I need. Thanks for the information!!

Carol Giambri April 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Suzanne, actually you don’t need much room or time to garden. Sounds like container gardening would be ideal way to cut down on weeds too. Container boxes work great. Will be upcoming article on that subject.

Carol Giambri April 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Sue, I too love, love gardening. So much fun.

Carol Giambri April 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

Rhonda, Shade is a great thing too for planting. Yeah for the sun and the shade combo.

Carol Giambri April 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

Gretchen, thanks. I just love eating and playing in the garden. Last year I even volunteered at an organic farm. Winter gardening sounds great too. Inside or out?

Carol Giambri April 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

Dr. Daisy, I too am glad for the shady gardening as inside my house looks close to the midnight hour and I love a bright house which I don’t have here. One day…

Carol Giambri April 23, 2012 at 11:11 am

Tony, Awesome. Collard green lover here too. I have not tried growing them but I can see how easy it would be for me. I would overseed, water and give it the food it needs to produce the harvest for ya. Eat them raw or cooked. Raw can roll and stuff. Yummy. I have a million ideas I could share.

Dr. Sarah David April 23, 2012 at 11:32 am

Carol, thank you so much for sharing these great gardening tips.  I enjoy using herbs and now I have some tips on growing them.  

Edmund Lee April 23, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Love the idea Carol.  I've never tried indoor gardening before.  Didn't think it was possible out here where I live.  I guess it requires some OUTSIDE the BOX thinking =)

Carl Mason-Liebenberg April 24, 2012 at 1:19 am

I do love my garden! though it presents some challenges, especially with air borne fungu from local vineyards, i treasure every day of it! great article, Carol!

Helena April 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Thanks for this Carol. I'd like to try my hand at some container gardening this year, and we don't get a lot of direct sunlight because there's a concrete wall just outside my windows, so appreciate the list of herbs that will grow in the shade.

Carol Giambri April 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Helena, Good for you to try gardening. You will love it when you see what can grow right before your eyes. Fun too. Enjoy it.

Carol Giambri April 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Carl, Maybe one day you will be able not deal with the airborne fungi from the local vineyards. Wow. Vineyards close by. Post pictures.

Carol Giambri April 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Edmund, Maybe outside the box thinking but fun for sure. Just watch the light, soil and growing length.

Carol Giambri April 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Sarah, Great you can now grow your own herbs. How much more fun is that besides saving money. Yeah! Go for it.

Michele May 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for sharing this info. You have saved many of us the time of looking all of these various plants up to see if they will grow in our shady places!

Hughie Bagnell May 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Carol…Thank you for sharing this excellent information! I have noticed an increase in the number of people gardening…an interesting trend which you may be able to capitalize on! …Thanks, Hughie :)

Jandi Theis May 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Great tips Carol… Thanks for sharing!

Carol Giambri May 7, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Thanks Jandi for reading and commenting.

Carol Giambri May 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Hi Hughie, Maybe more are gardening to save money, exercise or fun. I know it rocks in all 3 areas.

Carol Giambri May 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Michele, Thanks for sharing but I find it fun to share and don’t think I can ever be too different but wiser for sure. I need to learn my boundaries in “over” giving even online to some.

Claudia Looi May 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

Carol,great info… didn't know you could eat purslane. Are they sold in grocery stores?

Carol Giambri May 15, 2012 at 12:14 am

Claudia, Never saw Purslane sold in stores but I assume you can grow some or maybe it's already growing in your yard. 

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