Vegetables for Shade
by Sandy Swegel
OMG, Can you believe how hot it is? That’s the refrain from everybody I talk to. I’ll work in the garden when it’s below freezing or when there’s light rain, but I draw the line at working in the sun when the temperature is above 90. Unfortunately, temps around Denver area are in the upper 90’s. Poor Phoenix was 118. As one of the weather services said, “millions of people in the US are experiencing temperatures 10 – 20 degrees above normal this weekend.
So as I stood under a big tree and looked across the yard at my lettuce wilting under the hot sun, I started rethinking what my vegetable garden should look like. All those leafy vegetables don’t need full sun….and they’d deeply appreciate some relief on hot afternoons.
So, note to self: next year make some new beds in the shade. Dappled shade is best and dark shade won’t work, but the only vegetables that need lots of sun are those fruit producing vegetables like tomatoes and peppers.
There are lots of lists on what to grow in shade, but blogger Empress of Dirt has the most thorough, showing the gradient of shade tolerance. Your area will vary. Shade in Denver is different from shade in Seattle, so experiment. You know you have too much shade when the plants are barely growing. But I’ve watched arugula thrive under a big apple tree where it barely got any direct sun.
What to do about those poor greens out in the hot sun now? Give them some temporary shade. A shade cloth structure is ideal. I’m going to pull out the winter frost cloth and drape it over the garden till these extreme temperatures subside.
Keep your garden well watered but don’t drown it. No amount of water can compensate for extreme heat.
In the meantime, we’re grateful to all the firefighters out battling wildfires erupting throughout the Southwest in this record-breaking heat wave. They are true heroes.
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