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Growing Vegetables in the Shade

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English. Have you ever thought about planting a garden, but didn't think you had a spot with enough sunlight? Well, not all vegetables need a lot of sun.

Mark Hoffman and his wife, Guia, own a guesthouse in Kempton, Illinois. They often serve their guests produce fresh from the garden. The Hoffmans have been growing food and flowers for 25 years. For much of that time, Mark Hoffman has been experimenting with shade plantings. He says visitors to his website,, often ask how to plant in the shade. There are a lot of choices.

For example, he grows tomatoes near oak trees. Big oak trees can produce a lot of shade. But Mark Hoffman says his tomato plants grow, as long as they get five hours of direct sunlight each day. He also plants asparagus around a tree at its drip line. That is the area below the outer limit of the branches.

The Hoffmans' website includes a list of vegetables, flowers and herbs that have produced acceptably for them in partial shade. These include broccoli, daylilies, horseradish, Irish potatoes, oregano and winter onions. Mark Hoffman says plants with wider leaves seem to do better in the shade. He also finds that his potatoes do better in partial shade than in full sun.

Time of day, brightness of the sun and shadows from trees, walls and buildings all influence how much or how little sunlight falls on plants. Curtis Swift at Colorado State University says people interested in shade planting should also remember something else. The term "shade" can describe different amounts of darkness -- and it can even mean different things in different parts of the world.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 19Feb2013)