Mortgage Lifter Tomato

Mortgage Lifter tomato - awfully strange name for a tomato, isn't it?

This legendary heirloom has its roots in the Great Depression, and there's an intriguing story behind the strange name.

Here's the story: Back in the 1930's, as the nation languished in the grip of the Great Depression, a certain radiator repairman who went by the name of Radiator Charlie was struggling to make ends meet, just like most everyone else.

Charlie was an avid gardener, and just for kicks, he spent 6 growing seasons crossing the pollen of the 4 largest tomato varieties he could find. At the end of the six years, he had fine-tuned a tomato variety that consistently produced very large, wonderfully flavored fruit.

"I've really got something here," Charlie apparently thought to himself. And so he proceeded to produce plants of his new variety, and sold them for $1 each (pretty pricey for a tomato plant back then!).

As the story goes, people were going nuts for this colossal new tomato variety. Charlie made about a thousand bucks a year just selling tomato plants, and in 6 years made enough to pay off his mortgage. And that's the genesis of the name 'Mortgage Lifter Tomato.'

Is the story true?

I can't say for sure, but I hope so. Sure makes for a great story!

But it's indisputably true that this is a very impressive heirloom tomato variety. It produces an average fruit size of about two and a half pounds, and 4-pound tomatoes aren’t uncommon from the Mortage Lifter.

And it's not just all show - the fruit is very high quality, meaty and richly flavored. The Mortage Lifter is an indeterminate variety.


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