Radiator Charlie, who had no formal education or plant breeding experience, created this legendary tomato by cross-breeding four of the largest tomatoes he was able to find and developed a stable variety after six years of pollination and selection. He then sold his heirloom tomato plants for one dollar each (in the 1940s) and paid off the six thousand dollar mortgage on his house in six years. It is said that each spring, gardeners drove as far as 200 miles to buy Charlie’s seedling tomatoes.
The large, slightly flattened, pink-red fruits that range from 1 pound to more than 3 pounds, are meaty, very flavorful and have few tomato seeds.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, and they are full of fiber. Field or vine-ripened summer tomatoes are higher in vitamin C than greenhouse tomatoes grown in the fall and winter, and fresh tomatoes have more vitamin C than when they are cooked or canned. Tomatoes are also noted for containing the antioxidant compound lycopene, which may help protect against prostate cancer and heart disease.
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