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Growing Vegetables in the Shade

Bob Bowen

I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Farmers often feel they need a lot of sunshine to produce a good crop. The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, however, says lots of vegetables grow well without much sun.

The research center published a report about this subject some years ago in its magazine Organic Gardening. The report said many different kinds of foods from blueberries to beans can be grown in the shade.

Some vegetables do need a lot of sun. A vegetable crop expert at the University of Maine advised putting these vegetables where they can get from eight to ten hours of sunlight a day. Tomatoes, melons, squash and peppers are among those that need the most sun.

Plants that produce root crops, such as carrots and beets, need from six to eight hours of sunlight every day. But leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, need only six hours of sunlight a day.

The Rodale Institute says a garden should be planned carefully especially if you grow different kinds of foods. For example, rows of vegetables should be planted in an east-west direction. That way, as the sun passes overhead, all the plants will receive an equal amount of light. This is especially important when the plants grow to different heights.

Nut trees such as filbert, hazelnut and yellowhorn produce well with only sun in the morning.

Some fruits also do well without a lot of sunlight. In the United States, blueberries, raspberries, and several kinds of pears need only a little sun each day. In Asia, the hardy kiwi grows well in the shade.

Many herbs grow well without much sun. Mint plants, for example, grow well in the shade. So do sage, dill, oregano, borage, chamomile and several kinds of thyme.

The owner of a garden seed company warned against removing shade trees. He cut down all his shade trees to provide more sun for his crops. But then he had to protect his summer lettuce from the heat of the sun by hanging a piece of cloth to provide shade.

Instead of cutting trees, he suggested putting plants that need a lot of sunlight, such as tomatoes, in containers. That way they can be moved as the sun moves.

Internet users can learn more about the Rodale Institute at

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Bob Bowen. I'm Gwen Outen.