Part of the fun of growing heirlooms is learning their backstories. Often their names offer blatant clues, such as the popular Mortgage Lifter Tomato.
This robust variety produces pink hued offerings in the one pound range, with a sweet, rich flavour. It not only tastes rich, it made its creator, M.C. Byles of Logan, West Virginia, USA, a very wealthy man.
Mr. Byles worked on his tomatoes for several years through the 1930s, carefully saving seeds from his best crops season after season, until he came up with a variety that consistently produced the large, pink, sweet fruit, tomato connoisseurs know and love to this day.
After perfecting his plant, word of M.C. Byle’s incredible tomatoes soon spread. He began selling his plants for a dollar a piece in the 1940s; the equivalent of over sixteen dollars in todays money. As a result he was able to pay off his $6000 mortgage in the process, which led him to name his new tomato variety “Mortgage Lifter”.
Saving the best seeds from heirloom crops is a practice that continues among avid gardeners to this day. Doing so will result in vegetables perfectly adapted for your particular climate and soil. It is a fascinating process that yields flavourful rewards. And who knows, one day it could even pay off your mortgage!