January is winding down, the air is cold and crisp and yet all over the Garden State mailboxes bulge with catalogs from seed, bulb and live plant companies. They are showing of their newly developed vegetable and flower varieties and their tried and true heirloom favorites as well. It might be 9 degrees outdoors but for the gardening enthusiast spring truly is just around the corner.
Planning on expanding the vegetable Garden but wary of those patches of turf which lack full sun? Be of good cheer! A shaded environment will never support corn, tomatoes, zucchinis or peppers but even when only three hours of uninterrupted sunlight are available the gardener has a broad selection of vegetables to choose from which will thrive in just such a situation.
These will generally be root crops, like beets and carrots, or greens like chard, kale and arugula. Root crops and greens do not require the same amount of solar energy that plants which must flower and develop fruit, like a pepper or tomato plant would need.
Swiss chard can be grown as long as it gets, on average, 5 hours of sunlight. Asian greens require only two hours. Most other shade lovers like carrots, arugula, lettuce and beans fall somewhere in between, needing 3 to 4 hours to develop properly. A few vegetables, spinach for example actually thrive in shade and do best with a mere 4 hours of sunshine.
The folks at Mother Earth News have gone to some pains to prepare a helpful chart showing shade tolerant vegetables, the amount of sun which they require and a number of growing tips as well. The information contained there is a valuable tool for deciding what to plant and where.
The seed catalogs and websites are also helpful with visual keys to help the gardener distinguish between sun worshipping veggies and their more shade tolerant cousins.
Armed with these tools the well informed gardener will literally have it made in the shade in 2013!
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