For several years I have had a full shade vegetable garden in my back garden. I love it and I have had many plants that I have been told will never grow in the full shade vegetable garden survive quite nicely. The secret for shade vegetable growing is generally this — “NO ROOTS & NO FRUITS”. Both fruits and roots do not produce as well in shade, however, most everything else that is green or leafy will do just fine in a shade bed and I make sure that I take full advantage of every plant I can to make it all work. One of my latest shade garden design techniques has been what I describe as “Vegetable Color Blocking” and involves the use of two plant colors repeatedly in the garden (see garden view above).
Shade Garden Vegetables
Below is a list of vegetables you can use in the full shade vegetable garden and have given me significant success. Here is a link to the previous story (see photo right) with a different shade garden plan if you would like additional ideas for planting designs – LINK.
- Beans (lower production for beans)
- Beets (for beet greens)
- Collard greens
- Corn Maiche
- Herbs (i.e. chives, cilantro, lemon balm, mint, oregano, parsley, scallions)
- Kale (all types)
- Lettuces (all types)
- Mustard Greens
- Pak Choi
- Peas (lower production for peas)
- Radishes (small radishes)
- Swiss Chard
- Turnip Greens
How To Do A Garden Design With Vegetable Color Blocking
For my color blocking color palette I chose blue-green and burgundy-purple. I assigned each raised bed area a number, then coordinated the numbers. In the below drawing you can see that I used an “every other planting bed” concept. Number 1 is represented for blue-green plants and number 2 is burgundy-purple plants.
Next I laid out all the plants next to one another in the planting order I felt would look the best ornamentally (see below). While I had enough blue-green cabbage to completely cover all the space for my number 2 designated planting areas, I did not have enough of the burgundy-purple plants to do a total number one sweep of all the exact same plants. Instead, I split it up and planted purple basil, purple cabbage, and blood beets within the various number one planting areas. It worked out fine.
Below you can see the herbs and vegetables growing in July in front of my remodeled tiki hut shed. Because of the full shade situation, the cabbages never grew giant cabbage heads like they would have in full sun; the herbs had stronger production in the shade. However, I feel the plants were useful in that I occasionally picked a leaf off of the cabbages for use in the kitchen and it proved a very successful garden design. All season long it was attractive and colorful, so the color blocking technique was a success!
*Note – Because the FTC requires it, I am noting that Greenland Gardener sponsored the Double Bed Raised Garden. Organic Mechanics Soil sponsored the soil used for this project. Also, Bonnie Plants supplied the vegetable plants grown in the garden this season. I write many instructional stories and videos with these incredible products and donate a large portion of the vegetables to the local food pantry when harvested.