Planting day finally arrives

mortgage lifter 006

At last!  Our bales of hay finally cooled down to around 80 degrees and my son Braddock decided it was safe to plant.

My favorite – pictured above – is called the “Mortgage Lifter.” It was developed in the early 1930’s in Logan, West Virginia, by a radiator repairman, M.C. “Radiator Charlie” Byles. Without any experience in breeding, he made a successful cross of four of the largest

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tomatoes he could find – German Johnson, Beefsteak, an Italian variety, and an English variety.

Radiator Charlie sold the first seedlings of his new tomato in the 1940’s for one dollar each to customers who drove up to 200 miles for his famous plants that bore tasty tomatoes averaging two and a half pounds. With these sales, Charlie managed to pay off his $6,000 mortgage in only six years,  so the tomato was named Mortgage Lifter.

This large, meaty, mild-flavored tomato has few seeds and is the perfect tomato-sandwich tomato. Indeterminate plants bear pinkish-red, two and a half to four pound tomatoes all summer long.

We put in three different kinds of heirloom tomatoes, some early girls, squash, peppers, eggplant, honeydew melons and canteloupes.  Still waiting for the store to get zucchini in.

planting hay 015 B tossed in a handful of potting soil to give the young plants a head start.  We planted Brandywines and a couple of Wisconsin 55s which claim to be ready to eat in 55 days. I can’t wait and if all goes well, we’ll be cutting a tomato on June 15.

6 thoughts on “Planting day finally arrives

  1. Emily,
    I am Shirley Carley’s daughter and my brother-in-law, Roger Simmons (Vicksburg) turned me on to your blog. I am an avid reader now! I have read with curiosity about your hay bale garden, wondering how it will work. I live in Dallas and we plant our tomatoes in containers- we planted about 2 weeks ago- and have always had luck (all due to my husband, Ron’s green thumb, not me). I love reading about my home town and folks I know (like Mama and Mrs Dawkins). Thanks for the entertainment-


  2. Hey Karen – I know all about you! I keep up through Shirley – incidentally her brisket was fabulous. My friend Jane from West Poing wrote that she had read it on the Diva and made it for Easter. Was a big hit. Do you also know that your brother Chip is my next door neighbor! I wish I was twenty years younger!

  3. He is great, isn’t he? Good looking, hard working, smart, a wonderful daddy and he LOVES his Bulldogs! Wish we got home more often- we were there for Christmas and then I was in Tupelo for Mother’s surgery. Isn’t she amazing!

  4. Absolutely – Shirley Carley is my role model for writing and Shirley Dawkins is my role model for gardening. You’d think I’d be better at BOTH!

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