Sometimes the only spot we have to garden in doesn’t get the optimum amount of light required, 6 hours or more, for a vegetable garden. There are, however, a couple of vegetables and herbs that will grow in around 3-4 hours of direct light with bright indirect light for the balance of the day. If, however, you have a deep shade location, it’s probably best to forgo the veggies. For plants that tend to bolt, like salad greens, growing them in partial shade can even help slow down this process.
Arugula. My favorite spicy green. It has a tendency to bolt in hot weather so growing it in a shady spot will help it grow longer. It reseeds easily so if you are in a mild winter climate, it comes up on its own if left to go to seed.
Asian greens like bok choi, mizuna, tatsoi and komatsuna
Chard. If you want to harvest baby greens, you can grow this plant in only 3 hours of direct light. If you want to use the crisp stalks, you’ll need more sun.
Herbs. Mint, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, parsley can all be grown with less sun.
Kale. Only 3-4 hours a day is needed for this healthy green.
Lettuce. Leaf lettuces are easy to grow in shady spots.
Mustard greens. Another spicy green that tends to bolt during hot weather so growing it in the shade is smart.
Nasturtium. Not a vegetable but edible flower. The flowers can be added to salads and have a peppery taste.
Root vegetables. Beets, radish, carrots, rutabagas, turnips will grow in partial shade, they’ll just take longer to mature.
Scallions. Although the tops grow a bit softer in the shade, they still add that tasty onion flavor to dishes.
Spinach. Another leafy green that will produce even longer if given some shade.
Keep in mind that all of these plants would prefer more direct light so you won’t get growth that is as fast as you would in a sunny spot. Also plants grown in shadier spots tend to have softer leaves and stems. This can lead to pest problems like aphids which seem to target new, soft leaves. Other pests that takes up residence is shady spots are snails and slugs. Make sure to bait with a pet & wildlife safe snail bait like Sluggo Snail & Slug Control or lay down a good ring of Diatomaceous Earth around your plants. During the year the amount of light you get may change as the sun shifts seasonally. For this reason, some folks prefer to grow their plants in pots so that they can move them every few months to follow the light.