Champion Gardeners of Dexter – 1933

Champion Gardeners of Dexter Ready for Next Season–

Clabe Wilson Family Has Made Praiseworthy Record in Producing Food on Small Plot

written by Genora Cushman

for The Dexter Sentinel

For real gardening, which takes in the entire gardening season from early spring to late fall, we take off our hats to the Clabe Wilson family. Every inch of their medium-sized garden at the back of their home in Dexter has been utilized for the growing of vegetables during this past season. As soon as one crop was finished, the spot was replanted for another crop. A fall garden brought forth abundantly, after other gardens had been abandoned to weeds. This garden was kept spotlessly clean for weeks throughout the growing months, the boys being largely responsible for this.

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Clabe Wilson with Danny, Junior, and Dale

Mrs. Wilson, with the aid of the other members of the family, has canned an unlimited amount of food for the coming unproductive months, from this bit of ground. And now the final harvesting of tomatoes, cabbages and other late vegetables has been completed; the vines and dead foliage have been raked and burned; and the ground is as bare and clean as a tennis court. It is all ready for the plowing in the spring and the starting of another model garden.

Note: Glenora Cushman, who worked for The Dexter Sentinel, visited neighborhoods scouting out news for the paper. No date on this clipping, but must have been from August 1933.

Leora and Clabe Wilson
Casual map to try to keep all the Wilson stories straight. I believe they lived at Mr. Hammond’s place, between “Grandmother’s” and O.S. Neal. doesn’t look like much room for a garden, unless they used the “garden” area” just west of Grandmother’s house. (This house still stands–south of the highway across from today’s Dexter Park.)


A young Dexter wife, who’d lost her mother and didn’t know much about taking care of a home, came to Leora in tears about something she didn’t understand. Among other things, Leora taught her to can fruits and vegetables, and how to clean and cut up a chicken.

That fall Delbert and Donald, who’d graduated that spring, trapped and hunted, getting plenty of meat for the family. One time it was snowing hard when they went to bed, so they planned to go hunting while tracking for prey was good. But when they got up the next morning, the snow was coated with thick dust. Iowa’s first big dust storm occurred November 12, 1933. Delbert said that hunting that day was a real mess, but it was still good for tracking.

Delbert and Donald Wilson


  1. We all need to utilise our gardens more productively in terms of growing herbs, vegetables and fruit – you provide historical evidence for this that puts a good number of us to shame.

  2. We’re slowly getting more and more into it. Especially, container gardening. So far, we’ve been growing a lot of herbs (Julie is making gallons of pesto sauce every year now). My Granny was the queen when it came ot that stuff. I remember her garden covered the better part of an acre, and she had everything from corn to radishes.

    • We have 3/4 acre here, mostly lawn, but Guy has two dozen tomato plants this year. We used to do okra, squash, everything, but have trouble with raccoons (there goes the sweetcorn), squirrels (riddled the peaches and they chew tomatoes), deer (graze on everything), etc. Deb next door makes gallons of salsa every year. We have lots of takers for the tomatoes.

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