The Great Depression Diaries, Part 2

The second installment of The Big Money’s “Depression Diaries,” where they reprint the diary of a lawyer who lived during the Great Depression, is up.

Aug. 5, 1931. I went to the fruit market house this evening. It was almost deserted. The farmers cannot sell their produce because men are not working and it has become fashionable for each family to have its own vegetable garden.

Get your spades out.

Depression Diary, Part 2 [The Big Money]
PREVIOUSLY: The Great Depression Diaries (Photo: Getty)


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  1. superj711 says:

    This isn’t a bad idea. I wish I had just a small plot of land to have a home grown vegetable garden. But alas no, I live in a condo with no greenspace.

    • TangDrinker says:

      @superj711: If you have a balcony, you can grow nearly anything in a big pot. I’ve done squash, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, herbs and lettuce.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        @TangDrinker: I’m pretty sure my neighbors would either steal them or break the pots. But if you don’t live near drunken idiots this is a good idea.

      • Haltingpoint says:

        @TangDrinker: And what about those of us who get limited sunlight on our (covered) decks in summer and no direct sunlight in winter due? Any suggestions?

    • uncle moe says:

      @superj711: it’s a great idea and to push tang’s idea one further, you can even do window boxes…

      …one complaint i have about the timing of this article is that i’m seeing snow outside my window and an indoor garden just isn’t likely…there’s a marijuana joke in there somewhere

  2. campredeye says:

    The college my mother works at has land that it lets people reserve to garden in.

    People in the town think its a community garden and steal our tomatos/cucumbers/pumpkins/string beans/potatoes/etc. repeatedly. They finally put up a fence and a sign, but it still happens.

    I cant believe how cheap and lazy some people are.

  3. Bladefist says:

    I cant believe you guys think we’re going to need our own garden.

  4. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    Gardening was already becoming popular anyway for environmental and safety/health reasons.. Remember the tomato crisis? Which actually turned out to be a chili pepper crisis…. maybe?

    Avoided if you grow your own veggies… Not that I’m going to do that.

  5. billbillbillbill says:

    We did a garden for the first time this last summer. It was great to plan meals based on what was ready in the garden. We loved the tomatoes and squash. I am expanding the garden this next summer to grow more. I don’t know if we save a ton of money growing our own food (except for tomatoes) but it is worth it to see results from work and such. To each their own, I guess.

  6. JiminyChristmas says:

    My Great Aunt Virginia was born in 1918. One of her Depression-era stories was about what she and her siblings would get for Christmas. One year she got an orange. Granted, for someone in the Midwest to get an orange in December was a little exotic, but that was it.

  7. Skipweasel says:

    We’ve just got our first allotment. It’s only ten yards square, but it’s good fertile soil and provided we can keep the pigeons off (back to gun control again!) we should get plenty of nice fresh veg off it, and as a bonus I get to lose some weight through all the weeding.

  8. theBIG says:

    We have a garden at our house – tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, carrots, bell peppers, chili peppers, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano…. we also have a couple of orange trees, a lemon tree, avocado tree, peach tree, fig tree, and grapes.

    Im going to try lettuce, potatoes, and corn next.

    I hardly got any peaches this year though, because the tree was attacked by Japanese Beetles – I was pretty pissed.

    It saves us a TON of money – we eat most of the stuff from our garden, and any extra is given away.

    • Illiterati says:

      @theBIG: This summer I got a couple of hens, which turned out to be the BEST Japanese beetle eradicators ever. Plus, I get eggs the likes of which I’ve never tasted before.

      • theBIG says:

        @Illiterati: I thought about getting some hens, but we live in a suburb, and I think there are ordinances against it – I couldnt let them run free in the yard, they would get into the neighbors yards and possibly in the street.

        busy street + free range chicken = dead chicken

  9. chiieddy says:

    I don’t have room for a vegetable garden (condo with no land or balcony) but I have opted for the waiting list for our local farmer’s coop.

  10. karlrove says:

    *pounding head against desk* Why are people so obsessed with reliving the Depression?

  11. NessaArachne says:

    Note, though what the lawyer is claiming. BECAUSE people had their own gardens, other men were out of work because they had no work from farm employment.

    All these money saving tips have a downside.

    • ideagirl says:

      @NessaArachne: Thanks for pointing that out, I thought I was the only one who made that connection, what with all the anti-Obama talk and all.

    • ShariC says:

      @NessaArachne: Since a worldwide food shortage is going on, I think there’s going to be a market for any food not sold to locals because of their home gardens. The world is different now because we operate globally.

  12. Urgleglurk says:

    We tried this about 20 years ago. We did get good harvests, but we lost money on it after we accounted for everything that went into it (seeds, tools, etc.). I suppose it could be worthwhile if you enjoy gardening, but we found it to be a lot of work for no savings.

  13. papahoth says:

    My grandparents raised chickens during the depression. My mother will never forget them getting their necks rung and what dirty, filthy birds they were when you cleaned them. And this is what would now be known as free range and all natural chickens.

  14. landsnark says:

    I for one am looking forward to some soul-wrenching hardship about which I can lecture and bore my grandchildren.

    • Bladefist says:

      @landsnark: I already found my hardship. Last nice my fox HD channel wasn’t coming in right, and the new episode of House was on. I had to actually switch to the non-HD fox channel to watch it. Non-HD. YA. Some serious shit man. And where was the government to help me then? I was on my own, watching pitiful quality tv.

  15. Bladefist says:

    factual value = Obama himself has mentioned on several occasions wealth redistribution. Including in that 2001 radio interview, where he was disappointed the constitution didn’t include any provisions for wealth redistribution. Wealth redistribution is a key part of socialism. Therefore one could say Obama has some socialist values. Why is everyone up in arms about that? He said it! He hasn’t refuted it. A lot of people think socialism works, and would benefit this country. It’s not an insult.

    The only non-factual thing said was assuming it would ruin this country. And that can’t be factual until after it happened. I don’t know who you support in this election (yes i do, its very obvious), but be clear on their views, and how they relate to parts of other government structures, and how they are used in the world.

    • Avacasso says:


      What does this have to do with learning lesson from the ‘great’ depression again?

    • katieoh says:

      @Bladefist: yes, it is a socialist idea, but honestly, the logic that makes me not dislike it is this: why would you not want to give a few percentage points more in taxes to the country that laid down the laws and regulations that allowed you to make the money in the first place?

      • HooFoot says:

        @katieoh: I don’t want to give the government anymore money until it learns to live within its means. The government gets more than enough revenue from taxes (the IRS has been claiming record revenue for the past few years) but we don’t see little benefit from it because of out of control spending. Why should I have to hand over even more money so that the AIG executives can have another vacation?

      • Bladefist says:

        @katieoh: they already give a few percentage points more.

    • papahoth says:

      @Bladefist: What’s it called when you redistribute to the rich?

    • superj711 says:

      Whoa ho ho, I just want a garden with fresh veggies. I don’t want to be a socialist, a maverick or depressed.

  16. katieoh says:

    this, while interesting, is NOT what the public needs to hear right now. this is not the great depression yet. the stock market’s bipolar behavior has yet to produce a drop in the top ten of all time. people are pitching a fit over a bump in the road. it’s a big bump, but if we navigate it right, everything will be fine.

    what needs to be said by all the major news media, but is not, is simply this: do not panic.

  17. HooFoot says:

    I have an apartment and very little money, but I still managed to start an indoor herb garden this past summer. Cost about $20 to get started and buy pots, equipment, soil, and plants. I do most of my cooking from scratch and having fresh herbs at my convenience was very nice and worth it. As far as cost savings go, I think I’ll save more money next summer when my start up costs won’t be as high. Highly recommended for anyone with a sunny window to spare.

  18. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    Let’s keep the comments on topic. No more partisan jabs or 2008 election stuff in this thread, ok?