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New to gardening - herbs and veggies that grow well without much direct sunlight

fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 09:52 AM

I was in the hardware store this morning to buy a few screws and of course took the opportunity to browse and happened upon their supply of herb and vegetable seeds which reminded me that this year I wanted to try and plant a few things. I live in the city, don't have much room, and have killed nearly any plant I've tried to grow but I think it would still be a fun adventure. I have a small concrete slab in the backyard with a few planter boxes (4'x2' and 2'x2'), but unfortunately there's not much sun and it sits in the shade for most of the day. Are there any herbs or vegetables that do well in the shade?

  1. s
    sharebear Mar 24, 2014 12:52 PM

    Speaking of living parallel lives! I've been contemplating the exact same thing. I don't have a balcony or a deck, so I've been thinking about getting a little garden bench to put in my living room with a grow-light. Window boxes are out for me because building management put bars over my kitchen window, ostensibly for safety reasons; understandable, but mildly annoying anyway.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sharebear
      herby Mar 24, 2014 01:12 PM

      Amazing how little greenery and edible one to boot makes our lives just a bit more pleasurable:)

    2. herby Mar 24, 2014 12:37 PM

      I am planning to start a little garden on my balcony this summer. It faces west, has walls on three sides, the front is cement half-wall and there is an overhang (upstairs balcony). Pretty light but not too much sun. I am definitely going to have two herb pot - an annual and a perennial that I hopefully would be able to take inside in the fall. Also want to have a few simple veggies and looking at buying square foot garden with a grow frame from Lee Valley. It looks like this: http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/pa...

      Now to decide what to grow and how much!

      1. n
        nothingswrong Mar 13, 2014 01:09 AM

        Did you decide to plant anything yet?

        I have a back yard with lots of sun, but I now keep my herbs in a large container next to the front door. I just went and got tiny plants and stuck 'em in there with good soil. I like having the planter next to the front door because every time I come home, I remember to water.

        Right now I've got basil, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, and rosemary going.

        My front porch is entirely covered, and there's a huge shade tree in the front yard, so the herbs get ZERO direct sunlight. I'll take a pic tomorrow and show you how large they've gotten in the short time I've had them. IME, herbs need very little light.

        Not sure about veggies. Mine are all in back with plenty of direct sunlight, sometimes TOO much sun, with how the weather is here in L.A.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nothingswrong
          fldhkybnva Mar 13, 2014 02:22 AM

          I haven't but I'm thinking herbs would work by the front stoop.

        2. pinehurst Feb 21, 2014 08:21 AM

          Leafy things don't need sun as much as (say) tomatoes, carrots, zuke. Try lettuces, chards. Also, cruciferous veggies do well.

          As for herbs, I haven't found a place where mint *won't* grow.

          1. Cherylptw Feb 18, 2014 08:45 PM

            Is there sun near your front door where you could put some large flower pots at all? You could grow some vegetables in containers (container gardening) like tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, a cucumber plant can be grown in a large pot and trellised.

            Look at garden seed websites for varieties that do well in shaded areas..

            Gurney's seed & nursery
            Territorial seed company
            Kitazawa Seed Co (Asian type vegetables & herbs)
            Richer's
            Burpee seeds
            Baker Creek Heirloom seeds
            Southern Exposure seed exchange

            Here's a link to info about shaded crops: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organi...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Cherylptw
              fldhkybnva Feb 19, 2014 04:31 AM

              I have two large windows in the front that get plenty of the sun.

              1. re: Cherylptw
                hill food Feb 19, 2014 08:28 PM

                Cheryl - yeah but on the porch there are those damn damn squirrels. squirrels. damn them all.

                with herbs (yeah I know I'm a scratched LP), the thing really is the moisture content of the soil more than the sunlight.

              2. DonShirer Feb 18, 2014 04:22 PM

                My original garden area has become shaded by next door trees, so I've had to move sun-loving veggies to the front lawn (despite mild objections from DW!). Maybe you should look into ornamental veggies there too!

                However the shaded area (~5 hours of sun each day) are still useful for many crops:
                lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, peas, parsley, pok choy, mizuna, basil, sage, etc.

                Others seem to have their productivity reduced, but still do well enough to grow there:
                Beans, cherry tomatoes, garlic.

                Things that definitely need sun:
                Most tomatoes, peppers, brussels sprouts, broccoli, melons, squash.

                1. hill food Feb 18, 2014 11:32 AM

                  fruit bearing plants do want light but lots of herbs don't want to be blasted with light. so think leafies. herbs should do just fine in indirect. however, if you're the black-thumb you describe, you may want to consider the back-up of planting ones already sprouted. I'm pretty good with plants and almost never had success with seeds. that takes a lot of coaxing and counter/table space in egg cartons for a few weeks+ with no guarantees.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hill food
                    fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 11:44 AM

                    Thanks for the tip, I don't coax well.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                      hill food Feb 18, 2014 11:51 AM

                      and shouting at them doesn't seem to help much either...

                      1. re: hill food
                        Sue in Mt P Mar 2, 2014 05:53 AM

                        Neither does staring at them for a long time.

                  2. daislander Feb 18, 2014 11:10 AM

                    peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, radish, carrots, mint, oregano l
                    any direct sun at all?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: daislander
                      fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 11:19 AM

                      The sun is up today and there are very few clouds and I just checked and it's pretty dark although enough sun that the area is lit. In the summer I recall finding the sun pretty annoying when trying to grill so it must get some amount of sun.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                        daislander Feb 18, 2014 11:38 AM

                        winter and summer sun is different as the summer sun is higher longer in the sky. That is what you need to do is actually track it and keep note then you can make choices of where one spot might get more then another so you can plant your most sun needy plant there.

                        1. re: daislander
                          fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 11:44 AM

                          Good idea.

                    2. westsidegal Feb 18, 2014 10:27 AM

                      do you have access to the roof?
                      can you put planter boxes on the roof? is there a source of water near the roof?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: westsidegal
                        fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 10:41 AM

                        Hmm, never thought of that. I will have to investigate.

                      2. n
                        ninrn Feb 18, 2014 10:08 AM

                        How much of the day are your planter boxes in shade and how completely shady is the shade? Does any direct light come through at all? Most vegetables need at least four hours of full light a day or steady dappled light all day.

                        If you have some places inside that get more light, it might work better to put planters in the sills or beside the windows there. You can grow lots of herbs in small planter boxes. If it's legal in your city, you can even affix window boxes right outside the window. This site has a lot of interesting products for small-space city gardening: http://www.windowbox.com/ -- You can probably get all the stuff they sell more cheaply elsewhere, but it's a nice source of ideas.

                        I suggest posting your question on GardenWeb, too. There are many more knowledgeable home gardeners there.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: ninrn
                          fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 10:20 AM

                          It faces north and is pretty shady :) There is an overhanging tree that I could possibly trim but I think it's in the shade most of the day. I live in a rowhouse so there's not even snow coming through between the houses. I think my neighbors have hanging window boxes, so if the landlord is OK with that, that would probably be an option as it sounds like the backyard planter boxes won't be very good. Thanks for all the information, I'll be sure to go look over at GardenWeb.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                            n
                            ninrn Feb 18, 2014 10:44 AM

                            Good luck, fldhkybnva. I think it's great to try to garden in the city. I lived in NYC for a long time and ate so poorly and got so cut off from nature that it really messed up my health. I think even just trying to grow a tiny bit of your own food (or just something beautiful) is worthwhile.

                            1. re: ninrn
                              fldhkybnva Feb 18, 2014 11:18 AM

                              I always keep fresh veggies at home but my motivation was more so in frustration of herbs that always go bad. Then, I figured I could expand and grow some veggies too. I'd love to grab it from the backyard and know there is always a fresh option :)

                              1. re: ninrn
                                Shrinkrap Feb 18, 2014 10:51 PM

                                I grew up in Queens, and my neighbor had a rooster. It crowed, but it was not as loud as the train that behind their house.

                                1. re: Shrinkrap
                                  Cherylptw Feb 19, 2014 09:24 PM

                                  I grew up in Queens too (99 th ave & 204th St. in Hollis), had the LIRR passing loudly all day long (and part of the night). Gosh! I hadn't thought of that in years!

                                  1. re: Cherylptw
                                    Shrinkrap Feb 19, 2014 09:40 PM

                                    I was in St. Albans, between Baisley and 120th.

                                    Things rattled for several seconds, several times a day. I thought it was "normal". When I moved to LA, the first time I felt an earthquake I was thinking..."there goes the train....wait...."

                                    1. re: Shrinkrap
                                      hill food Feb 19, 2014 10:09 PM

                                      heh once in SF I was talking to somebody who lived on a streetcar curve where it always rumbles, I was commiserating, but her response was "NO, the N-Judah is my buddy" later I lived where I heard foghorns, ships, and cable cars most of the night and I understood.

                                      1. re: Shrinkrap
                                        Cherylptw Feb 22, 2014 01:46 PM

                                        We used to go to Baisley Park all the time...wow, that brings back memories....

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