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Gardening in a Dust Bowl title image

Girls with harvested apples
Girls with harvested apples, 1930s SHSND# 0075-050
Lil’s father-in-law also gardened and had strawberries in sufficient quantity to share. His strawberries constituted a great occasional treat for Lil’s young family.

The first garden did well in spite of the heat that summer. Lil canned beans, using two gunny sacks of cow chips to heat the kettle to boiling to seal the jars, a task which took three hours. As she canned her beans she realized how thankful she was for a productive garden; many of her neighbors had nothing. As the summer went on she canned everything from the garden, as well as field corn and chokecherries. She thought that if the well did not go dry, she would be able to garden again the next year. (p. 22, 32)

For Lil, gardening and canning was often a family event. She took her baby into the garden with her, and as he grew, she planned a bigger garden to provide for her family. She sometimes spent several days at her mother’s house canning the summer’s bounty. (p. 30, 31, 34)

Foell’s garden held up through the 1930s. In 1938, she and Quinn moved to another farm where the soil was heavier and held moisture better. The garden continued to be a place for peaceful reflection for Lil. Unlike many other young mothers, she never turned the job over to the children, but encouraged them to join her in the garden.

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