10 Country: Page's Magic Dirt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Page's Magic Dirt

Robert Page Robert Page

July 8, 2004

Worth Co.-  A garden mystery that no one has explained, so far. A modest piece of land, about the size of three parking spaces, grows really big plants.

"See if we can find one here big enough," says Robert Page and his wife, Sandy, as they start cutting their okra.

The Pages have a big enough reason to grow a modest vegetable garden. "It costs so much in the stores to buy it. You can actually plant it yourself and save a whole lot, and fill up your freezer up twice as fast," says Robert.

And, be rather neighborly. "We have so much okra we share with everybody," says Robert with a smile. But, why do the plants grow so much okra? "Well, everyone says we have some magic dirt on one side here," says Robert, but all the dirt seems to have the came color.

Magic dirt? Maybe so, but not everywhere. On one side of the garden regular okra. "Grows about four feet tall," says Robert standing in two rows of okra that come about shoulder high on him. In the same dirt about 15 feet away, two more rows that grow so tall you can't hardly see Robert and Sandy as they cut it.

"My goodness," says Robert as he pulled back a tall okra plant and saw several pieces ready to cut. Regardless of which side they harvest the okra, it looks as it they have something watching them. "I think they are gorgeous," says Sandy as she looks at the many sunflowers that seem to be looking back at her. They have really tall sunflowers that came from a pack of seeds costing a quarter, where the Pages get a million dollars in bragging rights.

Sandy Page sees the flowers expressing human emotions. "Some look like they are hiding. Some look like they are not ashamed a bit," says Sandy with a laugh. Some look like they are getting their first peek at their new world.

The sunflowers do more than look pretty. "I think the sunflowers draw insects," says Robert. It certainly looks that way. A trail of ants walk up and down a thick stalk as if it was an interstate highway. No insects were seen on the okra. "I haven't used pesticides on this garden," says Robert proudly.

The Pages' generosity goes beyond giving away vegetables. "I'll dry the heads and save the seeds to feed the birds," says Robert. The Pages think tall, wanting to grow sunflowers as high as the birds fly. "I think the sky will be the limit," says Robert who has some plants taller than his 14 foot tall storage building.

But the question remains-- What makes the sunflowers and okra grow so much bigger? He fertilized his garden putting the same amount and same type everywhere. "Same amount of time and labor and everything in it," says Robert standing by the tall sunflowers. They water all the plans the same way, too.

The only explanation Robert has involves the dirt. "I think it's the difference in the soil between over here and over there," says Robert. Maybe so. "Alright. That's all we got there," says Robert as they finish cutting their okra for the day.

The sunflowers look as if they watched their every move. The Pages' garden offers more than natural beauty and vegetables. It has a mystery they haven't gotten to the root of yet.

They will need more of the magic dirt if they intend to set a new world sunflower record, having to grow one at least 25 feet, seven inches tall.

posted at 9:40AM by dave.miller@walb.com