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What can I grow? Looking for advice for next year.

I live in the USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. I also live in a hickory woods.

There are a few scattered spots that get sun, but for the most part, my entire yard is in the shade. I've got a few pots up past the tree line where I can grow things like cherry tomatoes, but larger full size tomatoes don't do very well.

There's a raised flower bed up there too that needs to be cleaned out. Once that's done, I want to plant something in it.

What'll grow well in partial shade?

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:10 pm
Location: ID/WA! border

Rayden54, I know nothing about hickory.

Some trees are fairly good neighbors to an annual vegetable garden. Some are not. I am in a battle every year with the roots of Colorado spruce near one garden. A short distance away is a garden with 5 trees as neighbors, all within about 50'. None of these trees are a spruce and none cause much trouble for the veggies I grow in what I call my "Shady Corner" garden.

Here is what I think is an important question -- what time of day do your beds receive sunlight?

I find that I cannot grow much in one garden if I plant too close to bushes that shade the beds during the morning hours. Despite sunshine from mid-day on, plants do not grow well if I put them where they miss out on morning sun.

The Shady Corner garden has light at sunrise. By about 10:30, the first shade begins to fall on the garden but a good part of it will have continuous sun until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. The 5 trees are to the west and southwest. Sunlight breaks thru them for a few minutes off and on thru the afternoon on just about all of the garden. I think that helps the plants but it sure isn't much sun by mid-afternoon.

Plants grow best in the sunniest part of the Shady Corner but some do okay even where there are hours and hours of afternoon shade. It is something of a "salad garden" for me and actually does better than out in the open ground for the leafy greens during the first weeks of our hot, dry summers.

Lettuce, spinach, bok choy, and green onions grow there. I sometimes have quite a few basil plants throughout the beds. On the sunnier ground, I grow leeks and parsley. I've also had celeriac (celery root) and even some winter squash that have done okay in the sunnier spots.

It might help to think of things this way: A plant begins life as a thin root with leaves. The leaves may be useful to the gardener. It requires more light for the plant to flower, produce fruit and finally seeds. You may be able to take your plants to the flowering stage - broccoli for example - but your tomato plant may need a good deal more sunlight to produce fruit. Sweet corn is valued for its seeds but may never make it to that stage.

I hope that is of some help.


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Super Green Thumb
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Agree with digitS that for veggies, the green leafies will tolerate shade better than flowering things. Cold weather veggies do better than summer ones. There are also a number of herbs that are fine in shade -- mint for sure and lemon balm, but also parsley and chives. If the shade isn't too complete/ dense, you could probably grow oregano and thyme.

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

I will add swiss chard. I have an explosion of volunteers from a plant that went to seed in an 90% shade area.

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