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Box Car Willie

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About Box Car Willie

‘Box Car Willie’ tomato was bred by Joe Bratka’s father and named probably after Lecil Travis Martin vel Boxcar Willie, an American country music singer. According to Tatiana’s Tomato Base, Joe found the seeds for this tomato (among several others varieties like Red Barn, Mule Team and Great Divide) but could not get the seeds to germinate, and sent them to Carolyn Male, who succeeded in germinating the seed and shared this variety with other gardeners and SSE members in the mid-1990s. Carolyn Male of Latham, New Jersey, USA offered this variety in the Seed Savers 1994 Yearbook.
‘Box Car Willie’ is a great choice if you’re looking for good old-fashioned flavor. This prolific heirloom is better than most of today’s hybrids, and its round red fruits are 12-18 oz. The indeterminate vines produce excellent, crack-free, disease tolerant tomatoes with a sweet, yet tart flavor. Midseason, about 75-80 days to maturity.

Culinary Use
Salad / Slicer
Flavor Profile
Sweet / Tart
Flesh Color
Fruit Color
Fruit Shape
Fruit Size
Leaf Type
Plant Type
Solanum lycopersicum
Open Pollinated

Reader Comments

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  • Avatar
    Alan Mader

    I would like to know if anyone has tried this tomato and can comment.

    • Avatar
      Ethan Morton

      I’ve got this variety, along with Mule Team, on the docket for 2021. Excited.

    • Avatar Subscriber

      I live in zone 7b in Temple, Georgia. Of the seven varieties that we planted at Fairview Market at Holloman Farm in 2021, this one is winning hands down in terms of its disease resistance package and vigor. The taste is great and reminds me of tomatoes from my childhood. We had 258 tomato plants on the farm this year.

    • Avatar
      NICOLE@LEFORE.COM Subscriber

      Transplanted this to a raised garden bed in May in Walla Walla, Washington. Now in August and it only has 3 tomatoes. Had few blossoms. I am wondering if the plant was mismarked because the green tomatoes look nothing like the photos – mine are huge, flatter and already cracking.

      • Dorota
        Dorota Editor
        Website Content Director

        Hi Nicole, yes, it was mismarked for sure if the shape and size of the fruits are different.

    • Avatar Subscriber

      I grew box car willie when I first began growing heirloom tomatoes in 2013. It was a great choice. The plants were strong and produce an abundant crop of medium size red tomatoes. I had so many I finally had to use some in making pasta sauce.

  • Avatar

    Yes, I have. Amongst 15 different varieties last summer, it was in the top 5 in Chicago.


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