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Gardening in a Dust Bowl title image

Building covered by dust storm
Dust storm effects in Kidder County, May 17, 1939
SHSND# 0351-03
Though 1935 offered some reprieve, the summer of 1936 was the worst. Heat and drought combined to kill crops, garden plants, and the spirit of the farmers. By this time, Ann was teaching in country schools, and her parents were forced into selling their farm to become part of Pipestem Reservoir, and the garden was no longer an important part of her life. But it had been part of a complex of resources the family depended upon to support a good life in the James River valley. (p. 69).

The second memoir which is a good source for gardening in the 1930s is Lil’s Courage. The memoir is based on the diary of Lillian Agnew Foell who lived south of Menoken. Lil, also known as Siss, married Quinn Foell, in 1932. She began to write about gardening on their rented farms in 1933.

Lil’s first garden was planted below the stock watering tank so that overflow would water the vegetables. The spot was sheltered from the wind. She planted radishes with carrots, as her mother had always done, so that the radishes would break the soil for the carrots. The rest of her garden included peas, onions, lettuce, green beans, and potatoes. Lil felt some pressure to have this garden do well. It was the first garden of her married life, she was pregnant with her first child, and the field crops were failing. The garden would have to substitute for cash income. (p. 21, 22)

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