In a shady garden, every bit of light is important. Where you locate your garden and how you arrange it can affect the quality and quantity of its yield.
When selecting a place to plant your garden, figure out where the sun shines the most in your shady yard. The best way to do this is to familiarize yourself with the way the sun tracks across the sky. Everyone knows that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, reaching its highest point in the sky around noon. This means that gardens on the east or west side of a fence or building will receive about a half day of sun if nothing else shades it. Another characteristic of the sun, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, is that it always shines from the south half of the sky. As a result, gardens located on the north side of a structure will get little or no direct sunlight, while those planted on the south side can potentially receive sunlight all year long.
Almost as important as the amount of sunlight a garden enjoys is the type of shade it must endure. While shade isn't necessarily good, some types of shade are better than others. For example, two hours of full sunlight supplemented with stippled shade from a tree is much better than the same amount of sunlight with the solid shade of a building.
Once you've chosen a location for your garden, avoid creating shade where it doesn't already exist. Don't put taller plants at the south end of your plot; they'll cast shadows on shorter ones to the north. When installing a fence, planting a tree, or building a shed, first think about how it could affect the sunlight in your garden. If it's going to create more shade, consider another location.
As you can see, gardening in the shade isn't impossible. Experiment to see what works best for you, and with any luck you'll soon be enjoying a delicious meal with produce from your own shady backyard.