Sunlight requirements for vegetables

Q. You have really inspired me! I need advice.

I am starting a community garden at my apartment complex. We have begun converting the “trash dump” between our garages into a garden space. The space may prove challenging for food production because it is only in full sun for about three to four hours a day. It is the only space we have!

The space is asphalt, so we are building planters. The planters we are building are eight feet long and four feet wide. and are two feet deep. We have acquired free soil by posting on craigslist. Now for my question…

Are there any particular veggies that you recommend we grow in such a low light situation? Any advice would really help.

A. First, like to congratulate you on your starting a community garden in your complex — way to go!

You are right, it’s going to be a challenge to grow with limited sunlight. 3-4 hours? Wow, that’s not much. Does that area get morning or afternoon sun?

All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure. If such exposure is not received by crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash (vegetables that contain seed), the plants grow spindly, they have weak stems, drop blooms and are generally nonproductive.

Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to grow the “big crops” such as tomatoes, corn, pepper, cucumbers, squash.

However, not all is doom and gloom! The space may be ideal for green crops such as swiss chard, kale, lettuces, arugula.

Here’s a handy “sunlight requirement” indicator from the internet:


How much sun does your garden really need?

Vegetables prefer a full day of sun, but if you live in a shady suburb you don’t have to give up the idea of growing vegetables. Here are some minimum sunlight requirements:

Fruiting Vegetables – eight hours of sun. This includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and vine crops such as cucumbers, melons and squash.

Root Vegetables – six hours of sun. This includes carrots, beets, etc.

Leafy Vegetables – four hours of sun. These are your “greens” such as lettuce, spinach and collards.

* Keep in mind that these are minimums. Increasing the amount of sunlight your vegetables receive will increase the yield and quality of your crop.

* Even though your vegetables may get enough light when planted near a tree, they will not get enough nourishment and water. Vegetables can’t compete with an established tree for essential nutrients and moisture.


I hope I’ve helped. You certainly have a tough situation to deal with, don’t be discouraged! At least you are going to be growing something in a space that wasn’t productive before!


  1. Lad Harshalkumar Panditrao says:

    Please tell me about Light requirements for different crops in DETAIL.

  2. 31 Days to a Patio Vegetable Garden {Day 2}: What To Plant | Young Wife's Guide says:

    […] different types of lettuce, beans, radishes and other cold tempered vegetables. Here’s a handy guide to help determine sunlight and your […]

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