Salads for Awkward Situations #2: Shade

A shady lettuce from my allotment - sadly not this year's!
I have a confession to make. My salads are most moribund. All the seeds I've sown for the outdoor season are either sulking, shivering or eaten by slugs. So I'm starting all over again when I get back from Chelsea Flower Show next week.

What's worse is I know I should have known better. I have plenty of experience of growing salads in the shade as one of main areas I used for them up at the allotment is underneath the apple trees, so I know what works and what doesn't. It's the perfect experience for dealing with growing salads in the miserable conditions we've had in the past few weeks.

So what went wrong? Seduction by Shiny Seed Packets, that's what. I have lots of new things to try this year, so I merrily sowed these instead of my tried and trusted friends of yore. Big mistake. Thank goodness I kept the pea shoot production line going, just in case*

Here's my list of salads which I've found work in shady areas:

  • Lettuces - shaded lettuces are also much slower to bolt if we ever get any of those soaring summer temperatures we're dreaming about
  • Rocket - this does surprisingly well seeing it has Mediterranean origins
  • Sorrel - a lovely sharp lemony flavour. I like buckler leaf because of the unusual shape of the leaves, though this type does seem to self-seed sooner and more prolifically than its rounder leaved cousin
  • Peas - podded, shoots, flowers or in any combination
  • Parsley - I prefer the flat leaved variety and it does really well
  • Coriander - another surprise because I think of it originating in warmer climes. However, it doesn't go to seed quite so quickly when grown in shade. 
  • Spinach - a good base for the stronger tasting stuff
  • Beetroot - I love 'Bull's Blood'. Great tasting leaves and the red stems provide a nice contrast to the other greens 

Chard and radishes** also work well in shade, but I don't usually grow them as they're not on our favourites list. Avoid tomatoes at all costs, they NEED the sun.

Don't forget it's Salad Days next week. Mr Linky will be here to showcase all your 52 Week Salad Challenge posts for May :)

* = a top tip from Alys Fowler at her talk I went to recently is to always sow some spares and have a backup in the form of sprouted seeds. How true.
** = though I love radishes grown as microgreens :)


  1. I would add mint which I use in heaps of salads and mizuna. I have heaps of shade and both these do well for me (admitedly in a warmer climate).

  2. Lettuce , rocket, spinach and beetroot can be found in my garden. But I didn't had space for the rest.

  3. I'll link in a post from earlier in the month...I have loads growing in the part shade part of the garden...many of the things you listed

  4. I think slugs are having a wonderful time at the moment - lots of soggy shivering salad leaves to attack. I hope the weather warms up soon.

  5. Liz - good additions both, thanks :)

    Mr Farmer - welcome! That's a very good basis for your salad :)

    Donna - great, I'll look out for your link!

    EG - they are everywhere :( Just spotted they're having a go at my Dahlias

  6. I have read your information i am very impressed from you..
    Thank you..

  7. This will be my last year trying tomatoes in this space, as I just don't get enough consistent sun. If I can get enough containers, I will try Bulls' Blood next year. The soil just isn't conducive to beets.


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