I live in Central Italy, I would like to plant some vegetables in a little piece of land 4m x 2m in the garden of my grandma. Since the garden is not mine, I can't plant stuff wherever I want, so this is all I can use.

This little piece of land, goes from full shade to partial sunlight (it's located at north of a tall building). Since I don't have a lot of space already, I want to use it all and not just the part in partial sunlight.

So my question is, is there any vegetable that grows in the summer and does well in full shade? I can't seem to find anything.. the only vegetables that I can grow here, and I can find at the local store, that can do pretty well with a little sun are lettuce, carrots, potatoes, spinaches, celery and a few more. The problem is that some of these grow in the winter/fall and still need a few hours of sunlight a day. Do you have any idea on how I can use that little space in full shade?

Thank you!


4 Answers 4


It is almost impossible to grow vegetables in house shade. If the area gets two to three hours of fairly sunny partial shade, you might be able to grow black raspberries or gooseberries, but I don't know if your grandma would like you to grow perennial vegetables there.

  • Thanks for the advice! But it get like 0 minutes of direct sunlight a day.. The land is like a rectangle, one part doesn't get any sun at all because there is the shadow of the building, the middle part is a little covered from a tree but It get a few hours of sunlight a day, and the north part gets full sunlight pretty much all day
    – Andrea
    Mar 23, 2021 at 15:27

Nettles likes shade and is quite tasty and healthy ... but most consider it a pest so let's skip over.

Radishes grow like weeds - quickly and even in the dark.

And lastly, again rather as a comment, Pelargonium - the toughest flower on the planet. I once forgot one in the dark without water for 12 months. When I found it it had nearly died. Point being, this thing can live in complete shade and winter down to perhaps -15C.

One last idea: a reflector. If some shiny/white "wall" is constructed strategically, could it increase sun exposure of the whole area significantly?


Depends what you mean by "shade". If you mean dense shade of a maple forest ,not much will grow. If you mean no direct sun but open sky , then leaf crops like spinach and chard should be good. May try coles ( cabbage, etc ) , not great but you may get something.


It's hard to say with certainty without knowing how strong your indirect light is. So, I'm just going to share the most likely candidates that come to mind, whether or not they'll actually work for you.

I've found that Jerusalem artichokes don't need a terrible lot of light to get big tubers in my garden. I could see them doing fine with even less. Note that Jerusalem artichokes aren't artichokes; they're sunflowers, but they're a root vegetable. They're also known as sunchokes and sunroots.

Welsh onions / bunching onions (Allium fistulosum) seem to do decently without a lot of light.

Horseradish does pretty well. I have a plant that is pretty much in full shade.

Maybe alpine strawberries.

Maybe wonderberries.

Arugula should do fine.

Whatever you try, make sure the soil is good, nourished, and properly watered. Poor, dry soil and low light aren't a good combination for most things. Excellent soil can get great results in more light levels.

When growing in low light, it's more important than usual to avoid crowding your plants, especially if they're fruiting crops. It's perhaps also more important than usual to make sure they have enough soil.

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