Have We Got the Right Plant for You!

A great tomato for our time is the Mortgage Lifter. This variety averages a meaty 2½ pounds, but can reach a fighting weight of 4, and consistently wins taste tests.

c15 tomato
Published May 3, 2012 5:00 AM
2 min read

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c15 tomatoA great tomato for our time is the Mortgage Lifter. This variety averages a meaty 2½ pounds, but can reach a fighting weight of 4, and consistently wins taste tests.


By Chris Cohan 


c15 tomatoA great tomato for our time is the Mortgage Lifter. This variety averages a meaty 2½ pounds, but can reach a fighting weight of 4, and consistently wins taste tests.

 

Legend has it that M.C. Byles, known as “Radiator Charlie”, developed it in the early 1930s while in Logan, W.V. He earned his nickname from the radiator repair business he opened at the foot of a steep hill on which trucks would often overheat. Byles had no formal education or plant breeding experience, but he created this legendary tomato by crossbreeding four of the largest-fruited tomatoes he could find: ‘German Johnson’, ‘Beefsteak’, an Italian variety, and an English variety.

 

One of the four varieties was planted in the middle of a circle. Then, using a baby’s ear syringe, he cross-pollinated the center plant with pollen from the circle of tomatoes. The following year he selected the best seedlings and planted them in the center and the rest in a circle around it. He repeated the pollination and selection process six more years, until he had a stable variety.

 

Byles sold his tomato plants for $1 each and paid off the $6,000 mortgage on his house in six years. Each spring, gardeners drove as far as 200 miles to buy the seedlings.

 

Mortgage Lifter plants really pay off — they’re very productive, disease resistant, and continue to bear until frost. These large, slightly flattened, pink-red tomatoes are meaty and flavorful with few seeds. 



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