From Jennifer's Desk...

Jennifer Ebeling Still Growing gardening podcast 6ftmama blog

I realized something after having four kids in five years, having a great career in the corporate world, raising giants, owning a dog, and celebrating 25 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart.

Milestones are not finish-lines.  And, there is no end to learning. I'm still growing.

I enjoy writing about my family, my garden, and my life on my blog. I owe a debt of gratitude to blogging, because it led me to podcasting.  In fact, it took me ten years to actually start my blog - but just a week to begin podcasting.

In May of 2013, my husband went away on a business trip to Europe for an entire week and when he came back home, I had started the Still Growing podcast. Here’s what happened:

  • After my hubby left, I sat down to read through my stack of magazines (I'm a voracious magazine reader). I ran across an article in Better Homes and Gardens in the May 2013  issue called, "50 make-life-better innovations".  Who wouldn't read an article with that title? That article led me to discover the Stitcher app. It immediately inspired me.
  • On Day two, I ordered my podcasting equipment on Amazon.
  • By Day three, I was inviting guests to be on my podcast
  • By Day four, I had a name for my podcast – Still Growing – which was taken from my signature sign-off for my blog.
    I also wrote a song for the show intro and outro with the Garage Band app on my iPad. This was surprisingly easy and I learned firsthand as a podcast listener on Stitcher that a five-second snippet of intro music is more than sufficient for most shows.
  • On Day five, when my husband returned home, I greeted him with a quick kiss and then recorded my first interview for the show.

I thoroughly love producing and hosting my podcast. Each week is an opportunity to meet new people with passions and expertise in an area of life that I find absolutely fascinating: gardening. My podcast takes me back to my first jobs in high school - working in our local cable TV station and our city radio station KWOA.

The tagline for Still Growing is “dedicated to helping you and your garden grow”.  I attune strongly with the curious and enthusiastic home gardener because I am one myself. I love to learn about virtually all aspects of gardening. 

For me, every show is a gift. I’ve found guests on Still Growing so very generous about sharing – their time (the show is a long-format interview), their resources, their expertise, and their experiences. In turn, listeners are going to take that information and do something amazing with it – they'll track down a resource, show their own kids how to garden, start a community garden, build a greenhouse,  or simply make better choices about gardening. It’s that gift of connection through podcasting making a real difference not only for me but also in the lives and gardens of listeners. I love it.

Still Growing,



6ftmama flower signature



August: A Time to Re-Energize Your Garden

Save by Preserving Herbs

Source: Maple Grove Magazine |FROM THE MAY 2014 ISSUE


Jennifer Ebeling Grows A Garden Outside Her Kitchen Door

Master gardener Jennifer Ebeling shows how to grow a garden outside your kitchen door.

Jennifer Ebeling’s Maple Grove deck is as lush as the undergrowth of a Minnesota forest—not only with flowers, but with food. The master gardener simply walks a few feet from her kitchen to her deck door to gather the ingredients she needs for dinner. Large silver bowl in hand, she plucks away, a sprig of mint for fresh mojitos, some parsley—flat for cooking, curly to garnish the platter of pork. For the salad she harvests tomatoes, a plethora of peppers, snap peas and Swiss chard—standing like rhubarb showing off the beautiful veining in its bright red and yellow leaves.

Ebeling’s deck garden doesn’t stop there. Her large planters line the entire length of the elevated deck filled with all the herbs and spices she needs throughout the growing season to feed her family of six.

“I think people become edible gardeners without choosing to do it,” she says.

Most often, she said, kitchen gardens begin with a gift from a friend—a simple rhubarb plant, an allium—and it never stops. Today, Ebeling grows watermelon on her deck, strawberries, eggplant, dill and four varieties of basil, among other things.

She chose the deck for the majority of her food and spices even though her entire yard is virtually covered in gardens. She began with a front yard garden as her kids played on the lawn, she moved to the backyard when they were old enough for the swing set and she wrapped to the side of the house when they were ready to play ball. Every corner, nook and curve of her yard is growing with abundant grape vines, bushel after bushel of thyme and mint and tucked back into a corner, asparagus that she’ll patiently wait three years to develop into tender edible stalks. The food is mixed in with dozens of perennials but Ebeling relies on her kitchen deck garden as her workhorse, pulling from it constantly.

“You want your pots close to your kitchen and sometimes your garden isn’t close,” she says.

For her, it’s all about a line of sight to the things she uses most often. Using containers gives her complete control over the soil; she packs in the plants so she has very little weeding inside the pots and she can monitor the plants and tell at a glance if they need more water or nutrients. In addition, because the pots are on her elevated deck she doesn’t need to worry about deer and rabbits running away with her goodies.

Ebeling’s love for all things green is evident in her yard, her front porch and the lush décor inside her home where living plants soften nearly every corner and cascade from pots, bowls, hurricanes and mini greenhouses.

Ebeling shares her passion and knowledge with others through her work organizing the Maple Grove Garden Tour. She also hosts mini workshops in her ever-blooming backyard. Classes are free and limited to five participants but cover various topics from creating a succulent wreath to pruning boxwood. Students bring their own supplies and nestle in around Ebeling's garden table for tips and a hands-on experience.

“I liken it to art,” Ebeling says. “Gardening is such a personal expression.”

for your kitchen garden bounty. 

Glory Pesto

1 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. raw pine nuts
1/2 Tbsp. walnuts
1/3 c. parmesan cheese grated (Grana Padano is ideal but not necessary)
2 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
1-2 cloves fresh garlic (chopped)
Kosher salt to taste

Blend basil and oil in food processer until smooth (15 sec).
Add nuts and cheeses, and process (15 -20 sec).
Finish with garlic and salt.
Don't over process at this point or the garlic will overpower.
Taste and adjust with salt as desired.
Place mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a log shape, wrap it, and freeze it.
Then, simply break off chunks as needed.
Use for crostini, spaghetti, pasta, etc.

Ebeling calls this Glory Pesto “because it is so heavenly”.

Easy Compound Butter

1 stick butter, softened
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped herbs (pick one - thyme, rosemary, chives, sage, basil)
2 tsp. lemon zest

Combine in food processor or mixing bowl.
Place on sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log, wrap and chill.
To serve, cut it into disks or spread on bread.

This is a fun and easy way to experiment with herbs and flavor combinations.

Do it Yourself:

Tips from Jennifer Ebeling, author of the home and garden blog, on how to create a no-fuss watering system for all your pesky planters, hanging baskets, pots and gardens. Need to see the video? Check out her blog for a step-by-step walk through!

1. Remove the in-ground sprinkler head nearest the pots/planters you need to water.
2. Add an extension pipe to the sprinkler head with plumbers’ tape to prevent leaks. Extend the pipe so it rises 4-6 inches above the soil.
3. Attach a manifold to the pipe using plumbers’ tape. She uses the Toro Blue Stripe Drip 9-outlet Distribution Manifold, part #53755 from The Home Depot.
4. Attach tubing to the manifold and extend the lines to all of the pots, planters and hanging baskets that need to be watered. If needed, purchase Barbed Tee packs to make a “T” in the line and make additional splits off the main line to reach more area. Good water flow to all the lines is preferable.
5. Attach an emitter to the end of the line which allows you to adjust the flow of the water and prevent it from becoming dislodged. You can also simply purchase drip line tubing to reach a number of areas.
6. Stake the line into the pots/planters so the water line is secure.
7. If needed, purchase and attach a Toro Drip Jet Stream sprinkler head to replace the head removed from the lawn. The jet stream product can be attached to the manifold to water small areas of yard.

Don’t have an in-ground sprinkler system? Don’t worry, the 6ft mama has you covered:

1. Attach the manifold to a standard garden hose (you may need an adapter depending on your hose and manifold).
2. Follow the above steps to attach the tubing.
3. Install an outdoor faucet timer so your plants will be regularly watered.

Catch the Tour
The Maple Grove Garden Tour is in its 16th year and is a culminating event of the annual Maple Grove Days celebration. The public is welcome to attend the one-day tour to view scenic gardens, spectacular yards and outdoor living spaces throughout Maple Grove and surrounding communities.

The tour consists of four to five outdoor garden sites in and around Maple Grove and includes many staggered educational workshops giving visitors a chance to not only view the splendor, but take home a few tips.

“The main goal is to inspire a passion for the outdoors and gardening,” says Jennifer Ebeling, tour co-chair.

Check for date and times.

Source: The Minneapolis Star Tribune

My Minnesota: Winter can't sap this gardener's enthusiasm

By James Lileks Star Tribune  JANUARY 26, 2014 — 11:13AM

about 6ftmama Jennifer Ebeling

In the depths of the freeze, with snow deep and hard across the tundra, it’s hard to think anything will grow again — unless you’re a gardening evangelist. Then you take to the mike and spread good cheer.

At, (“I was going to call it ‘The View from Up Here,’ ” she chuckles) Jennifer Ebeling podcasts about Vitamin N, as she calls Nature, and the joys of digging in the dirt to bring forth food and beauty. It started last year when she began checking out other gardening podcasts, and was less than impressed.

“It was either old ladies talking about roses for two minutes, or long shows that drove me nuts. I thought ‘I can do this! I’m going to interview gardening experts around the country.’ ”

So it was off to for studio equipment, and a few days later she was up and chatting to the world.

Of course, anyone can podcast, but we’re not talking to someone who just loaded up the turnip truck. Thanks to the U Extension service, “I became a master gardener this year. It’s all about service, which means volunteering at the farmers market, getting kids to know there’s no such thing as a bacon seed. Or people will come up to the booth with a question about something in their yard. They’ll chop off a branch, a leaf, a twig, bring it to you, ask for help identifying it with nothing to go on.”

This could be a new police show: CSI Maple Grove, with a team of forensic gardeners, solving crimes. This smells like mint. Suspect has to be armed, dangerous and fresh-breathed.

So what sort of advice does she have for the gardener who longs to till? “Get thee to a nursery. One local nursery has a free workshop series through April ending when they have a pansy party.”

A what? “You’re potting up pansies and that’s all it is. A pansy bonanza.”

OK. Next? “I have a seed catalog party — it’s like fantasy football for gardeners. We do a mass order of seeds, and when they come we split them up, and you get to change your garden repertoire. It’s fun to talk about, too — gardening is a solitary thing, but if I’m doing this type of carrot, and you’re growing it, too, I can say, ‘How’s that working for you?’ ”

Bonding over common carrots is still a ways away, but until then, there’s podcasts and blogging and other ways to dream away the barren months. Provided the kids let her get some work done, of course. Her blog also chronicles the pleasures of parenting a brood of four. While we chatted, the children had been quiet, but she said it was time to go untie them.

What do you use, duct tape or a soft nylon rope?

“Twine!” she laughed. “What else would a gardener have?”

Source: Maple Grove Magazine | April 2009 Issue



Growing Together

Working side-by-side in each other's gardens has turned two Maple Grove plant lovers into the best of friends.

Growing Together Jennifer Ebeling Judy Strobel April 2009 Maple Grove Magazine

A FEW TIMES IN LIFE, IF WE ARE LUCKY, we find a friend who feels like a perfect match, a "kindred spirit ," as Judy Strobel puts it. She and her friend, Jennifer Ebeling, know what it's like to share that bond. They met by chance five years ago; Strobel was driving by, as she had done many times before, saw Ebeling out gardening and stopped to compliment her on her front yard. Ebeling's response? "Well then, you should see my back yard," she says with a laugh. The two of them walked around, talking and admiring plants, and Strobel invited Ebeling to her house to see her gardens. The two have been close ever since.

Because they were both self-taught gardeners and at about the same skill level, they felt comfortable sharing ideas and eventually plants. Soon, they built enough confidence in each other to weed together in each other's gardens throughout the summer. "You know, you really have to trust that someone knows what they're doing when they help you weed," Strobel says. "You don't want someone pulling up your seedlings." With Strobel busy with a teenage son and working for the St. Paul-based nonprofit Global Volunteers, and Ebeling raising four kids younger than 9 and teaching piano, they needed a plan if they were going to do much gardening together. So they decided to meet every week-5 a.m. Wednesdays at Ebeling's and 5 a.m. Thursdays at Strobel's. "We have coffee and pull weeds," Ebeling says. "Sometimes we talk, and sometimes we just weed in silence." Two hours later, they're off to work and getting kids out the door for school.

Both women laugh at the fact that, in truth, they make kind of a funny pair. Ebeling is in her 30s, and she's 6 feet tall. Strobel is in her 50s and a whole foot shorter. Their gardens, and their gardening styles, are very different, too.

Ebeling's gardens wrap all around the perimeter of her house and several of her perennial beds include fun things for her kids. "In one area I've got lamb's ears. which are fun for them to touch because they're soft," she says, adding that she also has two types of Minnesota grapes that the kids love to munch on. There's a rock garden and even a fairy garden complete with lowgrowing and miniature plants surrounded by tiny fairies and their equally diminutive houses. "We call my garden the city garden because you'd never know I had all of this growing in this neighborhood with all the houses so close together."

"Our gardens are becoming one even though they look totally different from each other."
-Jennifer Ebeling

Strobel's garden, by contrast, is called the "country garden," because it spans her entire back yard. Like her friend, Strobel has her large garden arranged into separate parts, and because she's a fan of genealogy, some are named for villages where her ancestors came from . The garden holds special, sentimental meaning. "About four years ago,'' she says, "I asked my friends if they would trade or give me a perennial from their gardens, so it's a garden fi lled with plants from people who are dear to me.''

When they aren't working in their gardens, Strobel and Ebeling can often be found shopping for plants. They like to hit the big annual sales, including the Friends School Plant Sale held around Mother's Day. "I won't even tell you how early we go," says Ebeling, laughing. "But we get our coffee and our lawn chairs, and we're usually first in line." Once they get back to one of their houses, often with as many as 500 plants inside Ebeling's minivan and stuffed in the carrier on top, they lay them all out in the yard and divide them up. "We know each other really well, so we can just say, 'No, I want that one,' and not be shy about it," Ebeling says.

The pair also teams up when gathering supplies to keep their gardens healthy. Strobel and Ebeling both like the quality of plants offered by Lynde's Nursery, but Strobel is particularly fond of their compost, which she says is finer than ordinary compost because it has been sifted.

"A lot of gardeners live in the future, always planning to do something," Ebeling says. "But when you have two pairs of hands, you just reach your goals so much faster. Our gardens are becoming one even though they look totally different from each other." //

Plants with Meaning

All plants and herbs have meaning and Jennifer Ebeling is on a mission to share their purpose. She often gifts baskets of plants to friends and family along with a note explaining the meaning behind her choices—some signify remembrance, friendship and hope.

For house guests she’ll leave a simple sprig of an herb on a pillow and she adds a fragrant sprig as a keepsake in cards.

Courage – thyme, yarrow

Friendship – sweetpea, lemon

Healing – peppermint

Love – basil, plumeria

Spirituality – African violet, sandalwood

General blessing – rosemary

Protection – clover and dill

Healing –eucalyptus