Who are you anyway?

I’m Robin Rip­ley. I am co-author of Gro­cery Gar­den­ing and author of the Wis­dom for Home Pre­servers pub­lished by Taunton Press in 2014. 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 in 2005. 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. I recently updated my blog design with a cus­tom design by Mau­rice Design. I can’t rec­om­mend them highly enough. They also do the design and tech­ni­cal sup­port for my work-related websites.

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) and eight hens. Our 18-year-old cat, Miss P, has gone over the Rain­bow Bridge.


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: https://twitter.com/#!/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.



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