Spring Gardening in Rhode Island – Fun With Early Veggies

If you’ve been watching the news, you know that those of us in Rhode Island have had our fair share of rain last week.

Spring Daffodil

Even though we got by relatively unscathed, it was still pretty weird to see your backyard turn into a swamp in a matter of hours.  Although the highways are open again, and most of the water has subsided, many of our neighbors are still draining their basements, and some friends are still waiting to get back into the house.  The ‘silver lining’, so to speak, is that now everything is turning green and growing like crazy.  So, I thought it would be fun to write about our early gardening ventures and show some pics of all the great things getting a head start in the yard.

Last year, Jon built 5 raised beds in the yard and built a cloche over one of them.

Bacco and Max check out the sage and lavender

Typically, seeds packets advise you to wait until the last frost to plant outdoors, but we figured we could shave of 4-6 weeks by planting under the cloche.  So, as soon as we had a sunny weekend, we got started with our early spring crops.  The Demesne garden site has some good info on spring planting, and some fun ideas on companion planting.  In the end, a lot of what we ended up doing was based on trial and error.  A few things to note – most of the planting was done pre-flood, and you can’t get seeds in a straight row when a 4 year old is helping!

Spinach – the spinach was actually planted last fall and somehow managed to survive the winter as a little sprout.  When Jon put the cloche back up a few weeks ago, it really took off.  This is definitely a hearty plant!

Spinach Plant

Snow Peas – for some reason, I just love the way pea shoots look.  They are so cute!  These seeds were ones that I saved from the peas we grew last summer.  They sprouted in less than a week under the cloche and are growing well.  These are a great cool weather plant.

Snow Pea Shoots

Arugula – we always do really well with arugula.  These seeds were also from plants we grew last year that went to seed.  They sprouted in less than a week, and the ones in the cloche are growing very rapidly.  I hope to be eating arugula in a couple of weeks.  (As an experiment, I planted a few rows under the cloche and one row out in the open; the ones under the cloche are about 3 times as big).


Kale – I never grew kale before, but heard it is a great cool weather crop.  It sprouted in a little over a week and already has its second set of leaves.


Carrots – These are supposedly a good cool weather crop.  Ours haven’t sprouted yet, but I’m still hopeful.

Garlic – You can’t go wrong with this herb.  Put them in the ground around Halloween, and don’t worry about them until August.  I planted cloves from one head of garlic last fall.  All of them sprouted over the winter and have been growing steadily.  We’ll have scapes early summer and 15-20 heads of garlic by the fall.  Yum!


French Tarragon – I was told this plant couldn’t over winter in our zone.  I dug it up and put it in a pot, but accidentally left it outside all winter.  Much to my surprise, it totally came back!  I just moved it into its permanent home in one of the raised beds.  I guess it is pretty hardy after all.

French Tarragon

Sage – This is a very hardy plant.  It stayed out all winter, and its all ready getting full and bushy.

Parsley – Once again, I didn’t think this plant was a) a perennial, or b) could survive the winter.  Well, our parsley is alive and well!

Mint – What can I say about mint?  You can’t keep it down even with a steamroller.  Get ready for mint juleps!

Basil, Dill, Cilantro, Oregano – just put these seeds in this week.  The jury is out!  (although we always seem to do well with herbs)

Rhubarb – this is the second year we’ve had this perennial in our garden.  The roots were a transplant from my uncle’s and aunt’s garden in Maine.  They seem to be thriving!


I can’t wait until we start picking and eating!  Happy spring, and happy gardening.


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