Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter
79 days to maturity. Indeterminate. Developed by M.C. Byles in the 1930's in Logan, West Virginia. This is the original 'Mortgage Lifter' tomato. The following history is based on Jeff McCormack's transcript of the 1985 taped interview with M.C. Byles and his grandson. M.C. Byles was affectionately known as "Radiator Charlie." He earned that nickname during his ownership of the radiator-repair business that he opened at the foot of a mountain where trucks climbing the steep mountain grade would often overheat. Radiator Charlie had no formal education, or plant breeding experience, yet he created his now legendary tomato by cross-breeding 4 of the largest-fruited tomatoes he could find: German Johnson, Beefsteak, an Italian variety, and an English variety. One of the 4 varieties was planted in the middle of a circle of ten plants of the other 3 varieties. Using a baby's ear syringe, he cross-pollinated the central plant with pollen from the other three varieties. The following year he selected the best seedlings from the previous year's cross, and then selected the best plant from those seedlings. Each year, after further selection, seed from the best plant was then saved as seed stock for next year's crop. After Charlie developed this large tasty tomato he sold plants for $1.00 each (in the 1940's) and paid off the $6,000 mortgage on his house in 6 years. largely through the sale of his tomato plants. Each spring, gardeners drove as far as 200 miles to buy Charlie's seedling tomatoes. The fruits of the 'Mortgage Lifter' can reach 4 pounds when well grown. The vines are very productive, disease-tolerant, and continue to bear until frost. The plants produce their best quality fruits where the summers are not excessively hot. These large, slightly flattened, pink-red tomatoes are meaty, and flavorful with few seeds. Some of the details of the 'Mortgage Lifter' story can be heard or read in the National Public Radio Living on Earth archives Click here to listen to Jeff McCormack's interview on NPR: "Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes".
Packet: 0.12g - approximately 45 seeds