Just about all food gardening is done in the sun. But I have sections of land that have shade issues. And I do not want to cut the bordering trees down. I hated just to give up on those areas, so I experimented. I asked other gardeners what they had tried in shady spots, I looked around my neighborhood to see what we growing naturally in shade, and I searched the internet. I discovered that I could indeed utilize the shaded areas. Now I'm not talking about dense shade or all day shade. But I have spots of dappled shade, others with a few hours of morning shade, others with afternoon shade.
My first thought was coffee. I have indeed planted coffee trees in the heavily shaded areas, but I wanted vegetables. So coffee was relegated to those spots that got too much shade for anything else. Ok, back to veggies.
My first experiment was sweet potatoes. And surprisingly, I was successful. Since that first attempt, I have discovered that some varieties of sweet potatoes produce quite fine in semi-shade, while some do not. My current shade area for sweets gets morning shade until 11 a.m., then full sun the rest of the day.
In this "morning shade" section I also can grow greens : chard, mustard, Chinese greens, beet and turnip greens, purslane, and leaf lettuce. Plus tulsi, cutting celery, oregano, basils. I am trying some new stuff this year but I don't know yet how they will do : okinawan spinach, New Zealand spinach, and malabar spinach.
On the other side of the field I have another section that gets great sun until 1 pm, then complete shade. There I can grow beets, rutabagas, Portuguese cabbage, collards, potatoes, bush beans, short vined peas, kale, and broccoli. But I notice that the beans and peas are not quite as productive as those grown in the full sun. But they still do ok.
Along one area I have a strip of dappled shade after 3 hours of morning sun. I find that a local brushy tree called mamaki grows just fine there. Mamaki is used to make a tea. I can also grow regular tea bushes there, so those two produce a significant portion of my homemade teas.
I'm quite pleased with myself on this shade growing experiment. I've worked out a way to use most of the designated garden area. I'm still toying with veggies to see what grows where, which grows best.