Turning up the Garden

The inspiration for today’s post came from this photo of a young man digging with a shovel and a smile. It could be 1930, 1940, or so. I’d guess he is English.

My family used shovels many times turning up their gardens in the spring or digging up their potatoes. Apparently, it was so common, that it did not merit a photograph.

Sepia Saturday 522  30 May 2020

My grandfather maintained a sizable garden adjacent to their home near Madison, Kansas. He had one of those manual tillers with a single wheel and a vee-shaped piece of metal to turn up the earth. There were two wooden handles to push the implement. What great exercise it must have been.

I’m sure at other times he grabbed his shovel to dig the planting holes, but I have no photo of him doing that.

Kansas farmer with a shovelKansas farmer with a shovel Fri, Jan 17, 1913 – 5 · Chanute Weekly Tribune (Chanute, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Below is my aunt, Carol Jean McGhee and a friend, ready for Halloween. I wanted a picture of my grandfather’s garden and there it is behind them. They are in the side yard of the farmhouse.



Moving ahead a few decades, it was common to see my dad, Clyde Martin, with his rototiller in his garden. He was partial to the TroyBilt Tiller.

Dad rototilling_edited

5 thoughts on “Turning up the Garden

  1. That’s it! Too common for a photo – that’s my problem most of the time. I think my family took photos only on special occasions. That’s why I have so few photos of everyday life. I like the photo of your father and the tiller. I have one similar of my father-in-law in his garden which was the size of a lot that you could actually build a house on and probably a pool.


  2. Pictures of people doing common things are usually hard to come by. You did a nice job of it. Love the Halloween picture with the garden in the background. And a rototiller is a kind of shovel in disguise? If you didn’t have one you’d have to use a shovel and a hoe to the same effect!


  3. I remember seeing ads for the Troy Built Tiller in Organic Gardening magazine. My uncle had a tiller but I don’t remember the brand. I could go look for a photo. There must be one somewhere.


  4. Great job putting this all together, Virginia. I love the sketch of the farmer with the shovel, as well as the photo of your dad working the tiller. Looks like really hard work to me. I think I’ll stick with my window boxes!


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