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By John Kelso
Updated: 12:56 a.m. Thursday, June 24, 2010
Published: 10:59 p.m. Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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Life slows down during summer in Austin,Texas and we at the newspaper begin receiving photos of gigantic squashes or tomatoes people have grown in their gardens.
Now here comes Les Davis, who lives in Overlook Estates in Leander, who thinks he has grown the world's tallest agave. He estimates that, measuring to the top of the stalk, the agave he planted 10 years ago in his front yard is 35 to 40 feet tall.
"The FAA may require a red light on top of it to keep the planes from hitting it," he said.
The world's tallest agave, huh? You're thinking, "So what?" That's a good question.
"Our gardener who has been doing this for 30 years, he's from Mexico, and he's said he's never seen anything like that," Davis said. "I've looked on the Internet and I haven't seen anything that is even close."
You Google "World's Largest Agave" and you probably get a porn site.
An agave is a cactus-lookin' perennial that isn't actually a cactus, with sharp, spiky leaves that you could use to hold up a bank. In a way, agaves and worms are related, since both are associated with tequila.
But John Dromgoole , owner of the Natural Gardener nursery, who has a gardening talk show on 590 KLBJ, says there's no tequila coming out of Davis' agave no matter how big it is.
For tequila you need a blue agave, Dromgoole said, and the blue agave grows in Mexico. "If it grew here, I'd have my own tequila plantation," Dromgoole said. "We all would. To hell with Christmas trees."
What Davis has in his front yard is Agave americana, also known as a century plant , which has no tequila possibilities. So is this the world's largest? "I wouldn't say it's impossible," Dromgoole said. "That's pretty damned tall."
So what did Davis feed this plant to make it so tall?
"My neighbor over here says he watches speeders going up and down the street and he feeds them to (the agave) at night, and that's why it's so big," Davis said.
The agave started getting a lot taller recently when the stalk at the top that flowers began shooting up. At some point after the agave flowers, it will die, because that's what agaves do.
"It has kind of become the neighborhood icon," Davis said. "The whole neighborhood is sad to see it go." He says the neighborhood will probably throw a party for the passing of the agave.
So if it doesn't make tequila, what good is an agave? In Mexico people use their agave leaves to cook cabrito or a cow's head, Dromgoole said. You dig a hole, build a fire, throw in the goat or cow's head, and cover the hole with those agave spiky things. The agave leaves serve as a cover and hold in the flavor.
"Everybody stands around and drinks beer at night, and of course the prize is the eyeball," Dromgoole said. Yes. Of course it is. You can just see the children fighting over the eyeball.
Has Dromgoole ever eaten the cow's head eyeball? "No, I don't like anything that looks at me while I eat," he said.