Pay off your mortgage with tomatoes

There are a few different versions of the origins of the ‘Mortgage Lifter’ variety of tomato, however the most popular seems to be based around a man known as ‘Radiator Charlie’. In the 1930s, Marshall Cletis Byles worked at a repair shop in a small town in West Virginia in the United States. His specialty was repairing truck radiators and his nickname became ‘Radiator Charlie’.

Desperate financial times during the Great Depression forced Marshall to look for additional income and he decided to try breeding a large tomato to help feed hungry families. With minimal horticultural experience he started to cross pollinate 4 different tomatoes (including the variety ‘Beefsteak’) and over several years developed a large and tasty tomato which was first known as ‘Radiator Charlie’s Tomato’.

He had great success selling the seedlings and was able to pay off his mortgage with the proceeds. The tomato became known as ‘Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter’ and is now sold worldwide as ‘Mortgage Lifter’.

Yates® Mortgage Lifter Tomato produces very large, great tasting pinkish fruit which can weigh up to 1.5 kg. Yes, 1.5 kg! That’s one impressive tomato Radiator Charlie! It’s a prolific bearer and must be staked or grown inside a tomato cage.

Here’s how to get your Yates Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes started:

  1. Seed can be sown direct into a sunny vegie patch that’s had the soil enriched with some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser or sown into seedling punnets filled with a good quality seed raising mix like Yates Seed Raising Mix.
  2. Sow seed 6 mm deep, cover with seed raising mix and water gently.
  3. Keep the soil or seed raising mix moist and seedlings will start to emerge in around 5 – 7 days.
  4. For seedlings raised in punnets they can be transplanted into their final home when they’re 5 cm tall.

Here’s how to care for your Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes:

  1. Once the seedlings have been in the garden for around a fortnight, start feeding each week with Yates Thrive® Tomato Liquid Plant Food, which will provide the tomatoes with a balanced diet of nutrients to promote lots of healthy growth and additional potassium to encourage lots of flowers which will turn into delicious fruit.
  2. Protect tomato plants from common insect pests and diseases like caterpillars, aphids, leaf spots and powdery mildew by applying Yates Tomato & Vegetable Dust over the foliage every 7 – 10 days.
  3. For organic gardeners, common tomato insect pests such as aphids and caterpillars can be controlled with Yates Nature’s Way Citrus & Ornamental Spray, which is based on natural pyrethrin and vegetable oil and is certified for use in organic gardening
  4. Prevent fruit flies infesting tomato fruit with Yates Nature’s Way® Fruit Fly Control. An easy way to use this product is to apply it to a 30 cm square piece of plywood and hang it in the tomato bed. It’s important to reapply Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control onto the board every 7 days and begin baiting for fruit flies while the fruit is still small and well before it has changed colour. Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control is certified for use in organic gardening.


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