Shake off those winter doldrums by thinking of spring!

Planning Your Summer Garden

by Veronica Bowman

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When it seems as if the cold, gray winter days are lingering longer than you want, you can banish the winter doldrums by planning your summer garden. Growing your own vegetables is an effective way to keep your grocery costs down. When it's too cold to be outdoors in the garden, you can spend some time learning about new varieties of plants and new gardening ideas and techniques that you can use in your garden when spring arrives. Gardening is a continual learning experience. Whether you're a long-time gardener or a soon-to-be first time gardener, planning ahead is a vital part of a successfully productive garden.

Two ideas well worth exploring are the benefits and advantages of planting heirloom vegetables and perennial vegetables. Both of these can increase the frugality of your garden and provide you with some new and delicious vegetables to add to your diet. Now is an ideal time to research which heirloom and perennial vegetables will thrive in your area so that you can design your garden accordingly.

There are several advantages to growing heirloom vegetables that make them enticing to a frugal gardener. Heirloom vegetable seeds found in catalogs and on seed racks are often less expensive than hybrid seeds. Once you grow vegetables from heirloom seeds, you can save seeds from your crop of vegetables to plant next season. That makes your future plantings, using saved seeds, free, and free is good when you're monitoring expenses. Another advantage of heirloom vegetables is that they tend to produce in a more successive manner than plants from hybrid seeds. When all of the vegetables ripen at one time, as they tend to do with hybrid seeds, it's often difficult or impossible to use all of them before some get too large or too ripe and have to be thrown away. Wasting food doesn't fit into a frugal living lifestyle.

You can order seed catalogs that feature heirloom seeds to browse through as you await warm weather. For a faster option, you can find a list of online sites that offer heirloom seeds at This list may not be all inclusive, but it provides plenty of resources to get you started with your heirloom gardening project. Looking through these catalogs and making a list of the vegetables you want to include in your summer garden is an activity that is sure to divert your thoughts away from the gloominess of winter. By spring, you can have an heirloom vegetable garden planned and possibly already have some seeds on hand so you can begin enjoying a delightful gardening experience as soon as the temperature allow.

Another way to increase the frugality of your garden is to plant perennial vegetables. When you plant perennial vegetables, you don't have to buy new plants each year. You'll need to use some of your indoor time during the winter to research the types of perennial vegetables that will survive and thrive in your area. Among the many websites that discuss perennial vegetables, and are two that offer concise information in an easy to read format.

Along with perennial vegetables, you may want to include some perennial herbs in your garden. Fresh herbs are expensive when purchased at the grocery store or market. By growing your own herbs, you can enjoy them daily without breaking the budget. An extremely informative list of perennial herbs can be found at

Many garden experts believe that heirloom vegetables are more flavorful and nutritious than vegetables from hybrid seed. These benefits make heirloom vegetables an even more desirable addition to your garden. When you search for perennial vegetables to plant in your garden, you may discover some new vegetables and herbs that you have not previously considered planting or that you are completely unfamiliar with. Planting something different gives you an opportunity to try new foods and to create new recipes that could become family favorites.

Take the Next Step:

  • Find more time and money-wise tips for planning your summer garden by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Gardening on the cheap is simple. Just visit the TDS Frugal Gardening Guide and we'll show you the many ways frugal gardeners maintain beautiful, bountiful gardens for less.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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