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

(Continued)

He doesn’t use insecticide and collects rainwater in a 250-gallon tank in his yard. For planting, he uses compost that the town provides to residents who buy a permit.

“(The rainwater tank) has been supporting what I grow here,” he said. “I haven’t been using any town water for gardening.”

When he has trouble with insects, he said there are natural soap solutions you can use instead of chemicals.

He grows over 30 different varieties of plants in his garden, including tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mint, eggplant, asparagus, okra, pumpkins, and chili peppers.

His crop has been so bountiful that he shares some of it with neighbors. He only has to buy selective vegetables at the supermarket, such as carrots and onions, he said.

Back in India, Eswarappa parents were farmers and his brother recently won a “model farmer” award in the state of Karnataka in India, he said. His brother tends to a 43-acre farm in India, while his backyard garden is about 1/8 of an acre.

“Now, I am doing that here in a smaller way,” he said, noting tending to his garden is a way to pay tribute to his parents and his heritage.

Eswarappa, who is now retired, grew up in India and got an engineering degree from Banglore University in his home country. He lived in Kenya for three years working as an engineer before moving to the states in 1982 to pursue a masters degree in plastic engineering at UMass Lowell.

He has lived in Andover since 1987 and raised his two kids here who both attended Phillips Academy. The main reason he likes maintaining the garden is because he is curious and he likes to experiment with planting different crops, he said.

What is his next challenge for the garden?

Because he likes to occasionally smoke tobacco from a pipe, he’d like to try growing tobacco next.

We’ll have to wait until next year to see if he’ll succeed.

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