SG512 Emily Tepe: Author of The Edible Landscape

Emily TepeIn this episode of Still Growing…(SG), I feature SG512 – Emily Tepe: Author of The Edible Landscape . Emily is an edible landscaping expert and a garden writer/researcher.

I discovered Emily through her blog,; eating in season from the edible landscape.  On her blog, Emily shares her genuine appreciation for the aesthetic value of edibles; and she has a particular passion for Swiss Chard. Often times, it’s those little details (like having a soft spot for Swiss Chard), that help us find those kindred spirits among us. I’m quite certain that bit about Swiss Chard lead me straight to Emily.

Ironically, she can’t have a garden of her own… it’s against the rules where she lives.  Why? Because she’s living on an historical ranch INSIDE the Grand Teton National Park! (All gardeners must make some trade-offs!)

Emily Tepe in Grand Tetons Wyoming

Emily Tepe
“Where I live right now – if I were to try to have a garden –
the moose and the elk and the bears and the little ground squirrels would annihilate everything.”
Grand Tetons, Wyoming ~ Fall, 2013

When Emily isn’t living on the ranch in Wyoming, she’s back at her other cold climate home: Minnesota.

Emily and I chatted back in late August just as her beloved Minnesota State Fair was getting underway. [Note to Emily, If it’s any consolation the Fair suffered from an extreme heat wave which burned attendance this year – so it was probably a good year to skip!]

On writing her book with Voyageur Press, Emily says, “The book happened the way we dream of books happening…an editor who read my blog contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in writing a book on edible landscaping. How could I resist? Just about two years later, the book became a reality.”

Emily’s interview is divided into two parts. This episode is Part 1.

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More about Emily Tepe

Always an artist, Emily was a museum exhibit designer and a muralist before finding her passion for edibles. Since 2007, Emily has worked as a research associate at the the University of Minnesota Department of Horticultural Science. Her field research has focused on fruits: strawberries, raspberries, apples, plums, cherries and apricots.  In 2009, Emily started a garden – right on the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus in order to experiment with growing edibles. She began writing about the experience on her blog,, often encouraging other new gardeners to try edible landscaping. Her experimental garden became an Edible Landscape Demonstration Garden which is tended by University of Minnesota students even today.  Emily still writes about edibles and cooking on her blog,

The Minneapolis Star Tribune described Emily in this way, “[She] doesn’t accept the old notion that food-producing plants should be segregated in their own plot. She advocates combining them freely with ornamentals to add color, texture and visual interest to beds and containers.”

Visit Emily online: Website | Amazon 

SG512 Emily Tepe: The Edible Landscape

  • Emily’s introduction: growing up in Toledo, her career in design and discovering horticulture (10:15)
  • Pursing a Masters in Horticulture at the University of MN (13:00)
  • How Emily’s design background helps her creative use of edibles (14:30)
  • Emily’s early experiences with gardening (16:30)

“My family did move into a house…that was out in the country. There was this one spot that was fenced in – where a garden had been. It was enormous – probably 20 x 50 feetMy Mom decided to go for it and try her hand at gardening. She grew some of everything.

It became so much work that it became a burden for all of us and I remember just endless weeds.

I remember hiding inside doing my homework so I wouldn’t have to go and weed the garden…we never had a garden after that.”

– Emily Tepe

  • Emily’s new home in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming  (19:15)

“It is a beautiful place to be (living inside the Grand Teton National Park) and I’m learning a little bit from people here about gardening in even a harsher climate than Minnesota.

The season is certainly much shorter here and we’re at 6,500 feet. So, it gets very cold at night, even in the summertime… It makes things like tomatoes a little tricky to grow.”

– Emily Tepe

Artichokes & Zinnias Header

  • The story of Emily’s book: The Edible Landscape (24:30)

Emily Tepe The Edible Landscape

  • Emily’s thoughts on The Story of Food (26:30)

“We have access to so much food in this country…and in a way, that’s really great. But in many other ways, I think it’s not great because it has really made us take food for granted.  And then, yes, it does become very anonymous.”

– Emily Tepe

  • Incorporating Edibles into the Landscape (29:30)
  • Edible Landscaping for Kids (31:16)
  • The Future of Edible Landscaping (33:00)
  • Victory Gardens Redux (34:30)
  • Using Facts and Intuition to Design the Garden (37:20)
  • Emily’s Favorite Garden Resources (39:40)

“Whatever I’m searching for (on the internet)… I’ll add the term ‘University‘ or ‘edu‘ on the end of my search and that brings University Resources to the top of my search and that helps me weed through [search results].”

– Emily Tepe

  • What Emily has learned from Writing About Edibles (43:15)
  • Overcoming Northern Climate Challenges: How to Get A Lot Out of Your Garden in a Short Amount of Time (45:00)
  • Emily’s Most-Loved Edibles (48:30)

“I love incorporating fruiting plants.  Fruit trees and fruiting shrubs are great things to have in the garden…year after year…they produce more and more. Even though they make take a little bit of effort in terms of pruning, they are so productive and they also look really nice in the garden.”

“I’m sure you know that I have a particular fondness for Chard. That…grows perfectly anywhere – whether the [growing] season is super short or super long.  It’s a beautiful plant and it grows so easily and it just doesn’t take much effort.”

“Something that I try to focus on… is plants that produce a lot over the season as opposed to something where you get just one large harvest. So, something like cabbage or broccoliI really never plant those.  You wait so long, and the plants are beautiful and they get huge, but then you just get one harvest from them and it just doesn’t feel that efficient to me – especially in the short-seasoned garden. I plant things like the small sprouting broccoli, Broccoli Rabe (Rapini). Instead of cabbage, I’ll plant Bok Choy – I can harvest bits of that throughout the season.”

– Emily Tepe

  • Balancing Design & Nature: Emily’s Garden Design Secret (52:13)

“I would offer one word – honestly –  to help people design and that is simplicity.”

– Emily Tepe

  • Creative Edible Gardening Practices (54:00)
  • Visit Emily online: Website | Amazon

Mentioned on Still Growing… this week:

Grand Tetons National Park

Masters of Professional Studies in Horticulture (U of MN)

  Broccoli Rabe (Rapini)

Bok Choy 

September by Helen Hunt Jackson

Try to Remember lyrics by Tom Jones

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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