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November 5, 2012

Backyard gardner didn't need magic beans for this giant vine

ANDOVER, Mass. — If anyone has a shot at climbing into the clouds and meeting a giant, it's Muniyapla Eswarappa.

A two-and-a-half story beanstalk towers over Eswarappa's backyard, drawing attention from neighbors and passersby. Though it doesn't reach quite as high as the vine in the folktale, the beanstalk has earned Eswarappa the nickname "Jack."

“The neighbors are all amazed,” said Eswarappa, 61, who goes by "Eswar." “The neighbors would ask what I was doing, and I told them, ‘I am trying to see how high it will grow.’”

The 25-foot beanstalk isn’t the only unusual part of the garden. Eswarappa successfully plants fruits and vegetables that normally grow in other climates, such Indian string beans and luffa more common to his native East India.

When he told a friend he wanted to grow peanuts, Eswarappa was told it's almost impossible in New England. He found seeds in North Carolina, and months later is snacking on a small peanut harvest.

A retired engineer, Eswarappa prefers natural soap solutions to insecticide, uses town-provided compost and collects rainwater in a 250-gallon tank.

In all, he grows more than 30 varieties of plants on his eighth of an acre garden including tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mint, eggplant, asparagus, okra, pumpkins, and chili peppers. He shares the crop with his neighbors.

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Details for this story were provided by The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.

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