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

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 26, 2014 - 11:13 AM

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 6footmama.com, (“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 Amazon.com 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?”

 

 

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