Greens that thrive in partial shade:
Arugula, endive, watercress: 3-4 hours of sun per day. These greens welcome shade as they tend to bolt and become bitter in too much sun or heat.
Asian greens (bok choi, pak choi, komatsuna, tatsoi): As little as 2 hours of sun per day. They enjoy bright shade with ambient light.
Chard: 3-5 hours of sun per day. Though the plants will be smaller than they would be if grown in full sun, they will still produce plenty of tender greens when grown in partial shade.
Kale, mustard greens, collards: 3-4 hours of sun exposure per day. Again, your plants may be a bit smaller than those grown in full sun, but will still be worthy of your time and energy, producing plenty for consumption!
Lettuce: Minimum 3-4 hour sun exposure. Again, shade is actually beneficial in this scenario as lettuce tends to bolt when the heat comes on. Partial shade may actually extend the harvesting life of your lettuce by 2 or 3 weeks, if not longer.
Mesclun: Grown for it’s baby greens, as little as 2-3 hours of sun a day will be enough to nurture this salad mix to fruition. The baby leaves can be harvested in as little as 4-5 weeks. If you’re careful to harvest the leaves without disturbing the roots, you should be able to repeat the process 3 or 4 times before replanting.
Mustard greens: As little as 3-4 hours of sun per day for baby greens. Mustard greens can often become overwhelmingly strong if grown in full sun to full size! Partial shade helps these leaves remain delicately spicy – perfect for salad.
Green onions (scallions): 3 hours + of sun per day. These onions will do well in partial shade all season long.
Spinach: 3-4 hours of sun per day. Another early bolter, best grown both early and late in the season as spinach just doesn’t seems to be able to produce much before bolting in the heat of mid-season.
Stinging Nettles: Though these will need to be harvested with care, they are both edible and highly nutritious. When harvested in the early spring they are oh so very tender. Try them steamed stir fried or in pesto!
Fiddleheads of the Ostrich Fern: The term “fiddlehead” referes to the new shoots of the fern, which resemble the head of a fiddle just as they begin their accent into full grown fronds. These delectable little darlings, available only once a year just as spring comes on, are delicious when lightly steamed or sauteed. Though fiddleheads can easily be harvested in the wild (what a fun spring activity!) they can easily be cultivated in the shadiest recess of any garden. We ended up planting them in a super shady bed previously home to a variety of Hostas.
Culinary Herbs: Many herbs will tolerate as little as 3 hours of sun per day. Chives, cilantro (expect leggier cilantro) garlic, chives, mint, oregano, lemon balm and parsley will all do well with partial shade.
Vegetables that will tolerate partial shade:
Peas and beans: As little as 5 hours of sun per day. Consider growing bush variety beans in partial shade conditions as they seem to need less sun than their viney counterparts.
Root veggies: 4-5 hours of sun. Almost all root veggies can be grown in partial shade situations, but be aware that the less sun these crops get the longer they will take to mature. If you are a fan of baby carrots and new potatoes, which can both be expensive to buy, you will have no problem propagating these for yourself in less than full sun.
Brussels sprouts: 4-5 hours of sun. Again, nearly as well as those planted in full sun, but they produce beautiful & tasty (if not somewhat smaller) brussel sprouts.
Winter squash: This is another plant that will definitely do better in full sun, but will still produce when only offered partial sun. As little as 4-5 hours of direct sun exposure. The plants grew voraciously in the partial shade situation and though the squash themselves were small in size, they were fully ripe and absolutely delicious when it came time to harvest.