Tomato Mortgage Lifter-Heirloom

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(Lycopersicon esculentum )

The story behind the name of Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomato draws gardeners to this variety, but the sweet and rich taste makes it a favourite.

Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomato was developed in the early 1930’s by a man named M.C. “Radiator Charlie†Byles. Byles was a radiator repairman who, like many of his countrymen, struggled to keep his finances in order during the Great Depression. As the story goes, Radiator Charlie cross-bred the largest tomatoes he could find in his hometown of Logan, West Virginia, and sold the resulting plants for a dollar each. The profits he earned were substantial enough that he was able to pay down his mortgage with them!

A very large, beefsteak type tomato that has sweet, juicy fruit, ripens in mid season and is a large grower.

Flavours/Food Partners

Fresh tomatoes are enhanced by herbs like parsley, chives and celery leaf. If cooking mix with shallots, oregano, basil, garlic and chilli. Partner with leafy vegetable like lettuce, spinach, mizuna or beetroot leaves and sliced ham or Jarlsberg cheese for great tasting sandwich..


Like all tomatoes, Mortgage Lifter is high in the cancer fighting agent, Lycopene and Vitamin C. It is a large firm tomato that is good for slicing. The story behind this name is a must, and there are a couple. Basically it seems to be that the variety was bred by a man called M.C. ‘Radiator Charlie’ Byles in 1930’s in West Virginia. He set out to breed a large tomato that was easy to grow and could feed a poor family. He selected four of the largest locally available cultivars. After 10 years of selecting he had a variety that people would drive 300 kms and pay $1 (a lot then) for a seedling. After 6 years he had paid off his mortgage — thus the name. The story and the seed had a low profile until late in the 20th century. Now both are known across the world and it is a popular variety of tomato.


Plant in an airy, sunny position in well drained soil or very large pots. Requires a 1.8 to 2.0m stake.


Like all tomatoes it must receive a deep soaking when almost dry and should not receive overhead watering. Feed regularly with Seasol and Powerfeed. A small amount of dolomite lime after planting will make stronger plants. Remove side shoots and develop two or three main leaders. Harvest when fruit is deep pink before it gets too ripe.

Herb Attributes

Position Full Sun
Height 2.0m
Width 60cm