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Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter Tomato

Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter Tomato

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Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter Slow Food USA - Ark of Taste

85 days, indeterminate — Although many merchants simply call it 'Mortgage Lifter', 'Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter' is probably the most well known of the "mortgage lifter" varieties (see below). It has been a popular variety in the Logan, West Virginia area since it was introduced in the 1940s[2] and got international attention when its seed was introduced to gardeners in the mid-1980s. The regular leaf vines produce fruits that are large, some reaching over a pound each, pink in color, and one of the best flavored beefsteaks available.

The legend surrounding this tomato is that it was bred by Marshall Cletis Byles,[1] who preferred to be called "MC" or simply Charlie.[2] For several years he crossed 'German Johnson', 'Beefsteak', with undisclosed English and Italian varieties, selecting the largest specimens. It is said that he then sold plants for one dollar each and paid off his mortgage in six years. Seeds were supplied to Dr. Jeff McCormack, founder of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and released by him commercially in 1985.[2] We received our seed from him in 2001. Each packet contains approximately 20 seeds.

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Informational References:
  1. Marshall Cletis (M. C. or "Radiator Charlie") Byles was born on March 4, 1900 and passed away at the age of 89 on August 4, 1989. [Source: Social Security Death Index]
  2. "Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes," Living On Earth® - Public Radio International's Environmental News Magazine, September 23, 2005 air date.
  3. "Epic Tomatoes: How To Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time," Craig LeHoullier, Storey Publishing, 2015, pages 62-63.
  4. "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden," Dr. Carolyn Male, Workman Publishing, 1999, pages 166-167.
  5. "The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World's Most Beautiful Fruit," by Amy Goldman, Bloomsbury Publishing, New York, NY, 2008, page 116.

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