Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato

Ark of taste
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The Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) is a large, pink and red beefsteak tomato. Individual tomatoes weigh between 1 and 2 kg. They are described as appearing slightly flattened and sometimes having a cracked skin. The tomato produces few seeds. This tomato is described as being juicy, meaty, as well as having a nicely balanced flavor. It is considered excellent for canning. The Radiator Charlie Mortgage Lifter tomato grows well under organic methods. This tomato was developed by Mr. M.C. ‘Charlie’ Byles of Logan, West Virgina (in the eastern United States) in the 1930s. This tomato was named because Mr. Byles owned a radiator repair shop, and through the development and marketing of his tomato, he was able to lift the mortgage on his house in a mere six years. Mr. Byles also had no plant breeding experience, and the Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomato was the only breeding work he ever did. He created the tomato by taking ten tomatoes and putting them in a circle, alongside a German Johnson tomato. He collected the pollen from the ten outer tomatoes in a baby’s ear syringe, and then squirted it onto the flowers of the German Johnson. After seven years he had a stable tomato with the qualities he wanted. He sold the new seedling at $1 each. The fascinating story behind this variety has kept the strain alive amongst those interested in rare varieties. This tomato is little known on a wider scale, however, and today is grown almost exclusively in home gardens.

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StateUnited States

West Virginia