EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 8, 2012

A beanstalk that would make Jack jealous

Man grows unusual plants in his Andover backyard

ANDOVER — The towering beanstalk in his backyard has earned him the nickname “Jack” — as in “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

While his plant doesn’t quite reach to the clouds like the folktale, Muniyapla Eswarappa said his 25-foot beanstalk is gaining attention from neighbors and people who walk by.

Eswarappa, 61, who goes by “Eswar,” said he expected the plant to only grow about 5- or 6-feet-tall, but it kept growing … and growing … and growing. Once it reached 10-feet, he decided to place a 20-foot pole in the ground to support the growth.

“The neighbors are all amazed,” Eswarappa said. “The neighbors would ask what I was doing and I told them ‘I am trying to see how high it will grow.’”

The beanstalk isn’t the only unusual part of his garden. He successfully plants fruits and vegetables that normally grow in other climates, such as his native East India — including Indian string beans and luffa.

When he told a friend he wanted to grow peanuts, his friend told him it would be a miracle for them grow in New England’s climate. But Eswarappa was up for the challenge.

While it isn’t impossible, peanuts aren’t typically grown this far north.

“It was a challenge to even find the seeds,” he said. “(Store clerks) look at you like ‘what are you trying to do here.’ They said they don’t sell them because nobody grows them in the region or Massachusetts.”

Eswarappa had to have seeds shipped in from North Carolina and months after planting them, now he can eat them as a snack. He said they are good boiled and plans to make a batch for his neighbors.

He has been growing vegetables and other plants in his backyard for several years. “I wanted to see if organic gardening can be done in the backyard and I just proved it can be done very well,” he said.

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