The Q&A Archives: Vegetables in Shade

Question: I just made two 25 foot garden planters along the east side of my house. Each 1.5 feet in width. It only gets sun for about 3-4 hours a day because it lies between my house and my neighbor's. Is that enough sun to grow vegetables through the summer being in the shade for most of the afternoon? What veggies grow best in that light and heat condition?

Answer: There are two distinct growing seasons in the low desert with different annual vegetables, as well as flowers and herbs, thriving in each season. There's a cool season from approximately the end of September through April. Annuals can be installed from late September to February. Some gardeners prefer to wait until October, as cooler temperatures also help kill off whitefly populations which can quickly decimate plants. The warm season starts with planting in mid to late February. Some plants will make it through the summer's heat; others will end their growth when the heat arrives in May or June. If you plant cool-season types in the warm season or vice versa, they will quickly succumb. A general guideline for when to plant is that cool season crops are those which you eat the stems, leaves, and roots, such as greens, chards, cole crops, carrots, beets, onions, etc. Warm season crops are those which you eat the fruits, such as tomatoes, melons, peppers, etc. Only a few heat-loving vegetables can be planted this late (end of May), including blackeyed peas, melons, okra and sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, all vegetables need 6 to 8 hours of full sun to perform. In summer, morning sun and afternoon shade as you have is best, but 3 to 4 hours isn't enough for veggies to thrive.

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