Tag Archives: Mesclun

Shade Gardening in Northeastern Ohio

A shade covered yard shouldn’t keep you from growing your own food.

Snarky Acres in the shade
Snarky Acres in the shade

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sunny plot. Trees are great to climb and sit under, but not so much if you want grow vegetables. The first question you should ask yourself is “How much and what kind of shade do you have?” Not all shade is the same. Dappled shade under a tall tree is not equal to total shade on the north side of a building. There are several ways to determine how much sun you have on a given site.  If you are more technological, there are devices that will give you an exact reading, like the Suncalc Sunlight Calculator.  Just pop it into the ground in the morning on a sunny day (which isn’t always available here in Northeast Ohio), and by evening, it will tell you how much sunlight you have at that specific spot. I would recommend setting a phone alarm on your phone to remind you to pick it up at the end of the day. I once forgot about it for several days and thought a mushroom had popped up in the yard until I had a flash of memory.

Here is Suncalc’s definition of full sun through full shade:

Full Sun 6+
›Partial Sun at least 4 hours up to 6
›Partial Shade 1.5 to 4
›Full Shade less than 1.5 hours

Stick it into the ground at your site in the morning, and by evening you'll know how much sunlight you have.
Stick it into the ground at your site in the morning, and by evening you’ll know how much sunlight you have.

Another way to determine how much shade you have is to observe the current plants growing in your yard (including weeds). Both violets and ground ivy (shown below) are indicators you have at least partial shade (if not more sunlight). If the spot in question has issues even growing grass, you probably don’t have enough sun. Just remember that different times of the year will have different amounts of sunlight. For instance, in the spring before the trees leaf out will have much more sun than in the summer.

If you don’t have the time or patience to just observe the site, try some limited trial plantings in pots first. I’d also advise starting with the 2 to 4 hour veggies listed down below, especially the leafy greens.  If those are successful, you can then try plants that need more sun.

Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie
Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie

›Front Yard Herb Shade Garden

My shade perennial herb garden receiving its one hour of direct light of the day
My shade perennial herb garden receiving its one hour of direct light of the day

2 to 4 hours
Herbs – Chives, Cilantro,Garlic,Lemon Balm, Mint, Oregano,Parsley,Thyme
Asian greens – bok choi, komatsuna, tatsoi
Mustard/Turnip Greens

4 to 5 hours
›Peas/beans – bush
›Root veg – beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes, turnips
Swiss chard with stalks

More than 6 hours per day

Identify and Utilize Your Current Weeds

One possibility you probably didn’t think of is identifying and eating your yard weeds (of course only if you don’t spray chemicals on your lawn). Many of the “weeds” we despise are actually edible and good for you. Dandelions are an excellent example of this. The leaves (in the spring), flowers,  and roots all can be eaten. I have a complete list at “Northeastern Ohio Edible Garden Weeds


Mushrooms are another solution you may not thought of. There are plenty of kits on the Internet that allow you to grow mushrooms under your trees, in your yard, on logs, or even inside your house!

Food Not Lawns Cleveland Seed Starting Workshop – 3/3/2013


On Sunday March 3, 2013, I joined Food Not Lawns Cleveland for their seed starting workshop held at the Grace Lutheran Church in Cleveland Heights.  It took me an hour to get there from Kent, but well worth it as nothing beats spending an afternoon talking about gardening (except actually gardening).  Though I’ve been growing food for a number of years, there is always something one can pick up.

Some things I learned (or relearned) at the FNLC seed starting workshop:
– Tomatoes can be planted outside in mid March with protection
– Arp Rosemary can overwinter in Ohio
– Plant petunias with broccoli to ward off cabbage worms.
– You can create your own hybrids by seed saving.
– “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food” is a very inspiring book (as you will see in future blog entries).
– I know enough about gardening to assist others (explained bush vs. pole beans among other things)
– I need a better camera with a flash.




After very little deliberation, I decided to start a Mesclun (aka French salad) seed mix.  After planting (as seen below), I realized the date on the seed package was 2005.  Lettuce is only supposed to have a one to two year shelf life.  But instead of just scrapping the whole thing, I made the choice to see what happens as life is full of surprises.





Three days later (3/6), much to my chagrin, the seeds were sprouting like nobody’s business.  Of course, the seeds had been sealed in a little metallic envelope, but even still, quite a surprise.