It is often thought that you had to have full sun to grow your own vegetables. This isn’t really true, some veggies will grow with as little as 3 to 4 hours of sun per day. That means direct sunlight shining upon them. Of course, you must still fertilize and water, if you want a good crop. Some vegetable plants don’t grow well in full sun, like cauliflower. If cauliflower is planted in full sun, it is recommended that the large side leaves be pulled up and clipped together to protect the tender white heads from too much direct sunlight.
Full sun, partial sun, partial shade, full shade……….what do those terms mean, exactly?
Full Sun – at least 6 hours a day, more if possible
Partial Sun – at least three hours of sun a day
Partial Shade – no more than 3 to 6 hours of sun a day, preferably in the morning or early afternoon
Full Shade – Less than three hours of direct sunlight and filtered or dapples sunlight the rest of the time.
The sun is much stronger in the late afternoon, so partial sun plants are better planted in a location that gets late afternoon sun, whereas partial shade plants should be positioned out of the late afternoon sun, if possible. Full shade plants still need some sunlight, no plant does will with no sun at all, other than mushrooms!
What are these vegetables that grow in partial shade, and how much sun do they need in a day?
Broccoli – four to five hours
Beans – four hours
Peas – four hours
Kale – three hours
Leafy Greens – three to four hours
Radishes – four to five hours
Asian Greens – two hours
Spinach – four hours
Most herbs – three hours a day
Make sure to follow the directions on the seed packet or plant sets regarding how close together to plant them, or if you want more complete information on vegetable gardening, I highly recommend The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible This book has all the information you need to grow vegetables, I use mine all the time!
As a rule of thumb, you can loosely go by these numbers:
6 to 8 hours of sun – vegetables that bear fruit, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash
6 hours of sun – root vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, radishes and onions
3 to 4 hours of sun – leafy vegetables, like lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, and kale
I planted broccoli, peas, and greens in containers this year, and radishes, cauliflower and beans in raised garden beds. They all seem to be doing great, and it’s nice to know that some of them can be grown in partial shade. There is nothing quite like growing your own food. Knowing it is pesticide free and not GMO (genetically modified) means a lot to me and I feel good feeding home-grown food to my family.
For more info on growing vegetables in the shade, this video has great information on the challenges of planting vegetables in a yard that has a lot of shade:
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