Zora Cordelia Killough - 1928

            Zora Cordelia Killough (Mrs. John Nash K.) of Norman, Okla., was a master gardener.  In 1928, at the age of 63, there was a garden contest in nineteen counties of the southwest part of Oklahoma.  This contest was carried on through the Home Demonstration agent's office and the prizes were furnished by the magazine, "Oklahoma Farmer and Stockman."  The following article, quoting my grandmother, was published Feb. 14, 1929 in that magazine.  There was no one else living in her home but her husband.  She gave away food to anyone who would take it.  My mother was forever mad at my father for bringing home from Mommaw's house the very same food which Mother grew in our garden in smaller quantities.  However, Mommaw had numerous fruit trees and we had none.

Zora Killough Cunningham


    "Growing vegetables is fascinating to me," says Mrs. J. N. Killough.  "Planting seed and growing garden has a fascination nothing else quite equals.  To me, a garden is necessary to the contentment and satisfaction that go to make a home.  A garden and a home are almost inseparable.  Beautiful surroundings make for cheerfulness and contentment and I can do more to add those elements to my home by raising a garden than by any other means. 

    "My garden, which is about 75 by 140 feet, received a few wagonloads of rich dirt from the barn lot in September of 1927 and was well plowed about October the 5th.  Then it was sown to wheat and left until February when it was plowed again and nicely harrowed to conserve moisture and to be ready for planting as early as possible. 

    "Before I could plant in the open ground I filled boxes with dirt and planted tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplants and watermelon seed.  I covered the seed with good soil and watered them.  To keep them covered at night and on cold days, they was covered with newspapers.  By the time the freezes were over, these plants were ready to set in the garden. 

    "The first thing I consider in making my garden was how much of the different kinds of vegetables I would plant and how they should be planted in the rows.  Then I obtained the best seed I could get, since I make it a rule to save my own seed when possible.  I had quite a bit of seed to begin with.  The seed I did not have I bought locally, but if I could not get what I wanted, I ordered the seed from a reliable dealer. 

    "Then I made a plot of the garden on paper.  I knew just how many rows I could have.  I measured my garden plot and counted the rows that could be planted in it.  On one side, I planted the long-lived vegetables such as spinach, chard, carrots, parsnips, parsley, beets and oyster plant.  On the other side I planted early mustard, spinach, lettuce and radishes.  The whole garden was worked with a garden plow and hoe except the Irish potatoes, which was plowed with a horse plow one time. 

    "As soon as the short-lived and early-maturing vegetables matured, they were canned.  I prepared the ground and set out tomatoes.  I planted the different kinds of seed as near the right time as conditions would permit.  I prepared the rows for watermelons and lifted a shovelful of soil where I wanted to set the hill.  Then watered the pucks of melon plants and took a long knife and cut each plant into a square.  This allowed me to plant this in the ground without bothering the roots.  There was practically no setback to the plants by handling them this way and it increased the time of their maturity at least one month. 

    "I cultivated a few rows in the garden each day or two until April 20th.  After that date, I worked the garden over once a week and sometimes more often, depending on whether or not it had rained.  I sprayed the Irish potatoes, cabbage, watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, punkins and cucumbers, tomatoes, with arsenic of lead (!) whenever it was necessary. 

    "I begin on my canning budget as soon as my first greens was large enough.  First there was mustard and turnip greens, the Swiss chard, spinach, and later New Zealand spinach.  Then came the beans, peas, carrots and beets, squash, okra, and tomatoes and different other vegetables.  Since I had made several different plantings, I had fresh vegetables coming on all summer and fall.  I raised three different crops of mustard, two different crops of turnips and two of lettuce and four of radishes and two of black-eyed peas on the ground. 

    "My fall garden was planted during the early part of July.  The Irish potatoes had been harvested about the last of June.  They were plowed up and the ground was well-broken and I prepared that part of the garden for planting.  In this plot I planted two rows of Swiss chard, one of lettuce and mustard and one of turnips, three of sweet potatoes and two of black-eyed peas. 

    "The soil was moist and the seed came up in a short time and how they did grow!  In a short time the chard was as fine as that grown in the spring.  I had fresh peas for canning in a very short time.  The potatoes were real good to be set out so late in the season.  I never saw any of the vegetables look wilted although we had a very hot summer.  That just goes to prove that we can have a good garden in this country almost any year if we prepare the ground well before planting and work the soil as it should be worked."

    "My canning was quite an item.  I canned 431 quarts of vegetables, fruits, preserves, jellies and meats.  I gathered the vegetables late in the afternoon when convenient and prepared as many of them as possible that evening and finished the work the next morning.  My canner holds six quarts.  I made either one or two cookings of vegetables in the morning, according to how many vegetables was ready to be canned at that time.  I could easily make two cookings in the morning while I was doing the morning work and preparing my noon meal."

    Her son, Allen Killough, wrote, "At the county fair at Norman in 1928, Mamma took about 40 different jars of fruits and vegetables that she had canned, along with ten or twelve items such as turnips and potatoes, onions and things of that kind that was not canned.  Everything she took to the fair got a ribbon of some kind and half of them had the blue ribbon."


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