Who are you anyway?

I’m Robin Rip­ley. I am co-author of Gro­cery Gar­den­ing and author of the upcom­ing Wis­dom for Home Pre­servers from Taunton Press. I am a some­times gar­den blog­ger (mean­ing, I blog when I can). I’m also an adven­tur­ous cook and vol­un­teer. I also have a job.

What is your gar­den­ing philosophy?

A while back I was watch­ing a video of Audrey Hep­burn host­ing a series about gar­dens of the world. She said some­thing to the effect that gar­dens should be “peace­ful, per­sonal and prac­ti­cal.” It was an epiphany moment for me because it summed up beau­ti­fully what I am try­ing to do with the land­scape and gar­dens around our home.

I started out as a veg­etable gar­dener because it seemed the per­fect way to ensure that the food we eat is fresh and healthy. I remain very con­cerned about the food sources we use. But now I also try to make my gar­den beau­ti­ful as well as boun­ti­ful. I am learn­ing more each year about trees, flow­er­ing shrubs and peren­ni­als, grad­u­ally adding them to my well-established potager.

My Gar­den

Where do you live? What zone are you in?

We live in Calvert County, which is in South­ern Mary­land. We are in Zone 7, but are within a five minute walk of the Chesa­peake Bay and sur­rounded by trees, so our micro­cli­mate is prob­a­bly Zone 7b.

What are the dimen­sions of your potager and raised beds?

The potager is approx­i­mately 30′ x 40′. (I haven’t mea­sured exactly.) The raised beds are a bit larger than are really practical—about 6′ x 10′. For­tu­nately, I am tall, which means I have long arms to reach into the gar­den beds. Even then, it is a stretch. (Har har.)

Where did you get the potager picket fence? What is it made of?

The potager fence and gar­den gate were pur­chased and installed by Wal­pole Wood­work­ers. It was a huge invest­ment for us, but we con­sid­ered the potager as an exten­sion of the house and an out­door room. That’s how I jus­ti­fied it in my mind any­way. And truly, we do use it as an out­door room, enter­tain­ing, drink­ing cof­fee and read­ing the paper and meditating.

The fence and gate are made from wood. They were installed about seven years ago and are still hold­ing up. Because they are white I find I must give them a good sudsy scrub each spring. At some point I will be faced with paint­ing the fence—but not yet.

What are your potager’s raised beds made of?

The raised beds are made from 4″ x 4″ untreated cedar posts secured with rebar. I knew I wanted wood that would last and also not add unwanted chem­i­cals to my veg­etable beds. The cedar posts were very dif­fi­cult to find. In fact, we had to drive more than an hour away to buy them from a spe­cialty hard­ware store. I think they were worth the time and invest­ment though because after six years they are still in great shape.

Does the fence pro­tect your veg­eta­bles from deer, rab­bits and other wildlife?

The fence is dec­o­ra­tive. Rab­bits can dig under. Deer can step over. So it really isn’t designed to keep any­thing out. That said, it is use­ful for keep­ing the chick­ens away from ten­der seedlings. Although the chick­ens can fly, it hasn’t yet occurred to them that there may be some­thing tasty on the other side of the fence. And strangely, the deer aren’t inter­ested in get­ting in either—so far, at least. I sus­pect it is because there is so much to eat in the woods around our house dur­ing gar­den­ing sea­son. A local farmer sug­gested that the enclosed space with orna­men­ta­tion may be too much for a large deer to try and nav­i­gate while jump­ing. I just don’t know.

How much prop­erty do you have?

We have a lit­tle more than 21 acres. Most of it is woods sur­round­ing the house. Approx­i­mately six acres is cleared. A lit­tle more than an acre of that is devoted to the house, yard and potager. The rest of the cleared prop­erty is devoted to hay pro­duc­tion, which is accom­plished by a local farmer who uses the hay to feed his cows. It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for us.


Why do you blog?

I began blog­ging as a per­sonal jour­nal of what I was doing in the gar­den. Over the years I exper­i­mented with giv­ing advice about gar­den­ing. Now I just want to record and share what I am doing or am inter­ested in, so I’m not so much into giv­ing advice any­more. There are plenty of great resources on the inter­net for that. My gar­den blog is the defin­i­tive resource on the inter­net about my garden.

What blog plat­form do you use? Who designed your blog?

I use Word­Press with a cus­tom design by The Blog Stu­dio. Over the years sev­eral things in the design have changed. Some of them I did myself but for the hard stuff I call on the help of Blue Pen­guin Con­sult­ing. I can’t rec­om­mend them highly enough. They also did the design of my work website.

Do you accept guest blog posts or advertising?

This blog is my per­sonal jour­nal, so I have never and will never accept guest blog posts. (Okay, one time my dog Sophie did a guest post.) To date I have not accepted adver­tis­ing or paid links. I don’t plan to accept paid links. But if you’re a big, wealthy (eth­i­cal and organic) com­pany and want to throw a lot of money my way for some taste­ful adver­tise­ments or spon­sor­ships, I can be bought for the right price. Thank you.


Do you work in hor­ti­cul­ture or food?

Hah. No. I am a mar­ket­ing research con­sul­tant, which means I work with clients to iden­tify and under­stand prob­lems and poten­tial solu­tions through sur­veys, focus groups and inter­views. I do not even have any hor­ti­cul­ture– or food-related clients.

How many ani­mals do you have?

We cur­rently have two Papil­lons (lit­tle hairy dogs), one antique cat and six hens.


Where else can we visit you?

I also blog at Eggs and Chick­ens, so visit me there for more chicken sto­ries and recipes. On Twit­ter I am @robinripley:!/robinripley. I am also on Pin­ter­est as SoVeryFresh. My Face­book page is only for friends and fam­ily. You can also drop me a line using the con­tact form.



Be Socia­ble, Share!

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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