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Outdoor kitchen brainstorming

 
pollinator
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I'd like some brainstorming help. I dug out an outdoor kitchen area just outside my back door. I'll be putting in a rocket stove (NOT a mass heater) but right now it's just "the pit," 3 feet deep and 10 feet across.

The area is my main garden after fifty years of intensive composting, so walking out the back door I walk straight into "the pit."

My main concern is the walls. Right now they're pretty stable, but I need to figure out how to line them. There will likely be heaving during the winter, and minor landslides, and so on. I have hardware cloth, but that's only a partial solution as the sandy soil will run right through it.

Criteria:

I have no job, so it has to be something I can do with little or no cost.
It has to resist heaving when the soil is frozen during the winter
It needs to be something I can do myself, without major equipment

It does NOT have to be a short term project. I have all the materials for the stove, which will be built probably in the next few weeks. The rest of it can be done over a period of months.

My only thought so far is gabion type walls. I'm hoping you'll have other ideas.
IMG_20210505_121749040.jpg
The Pit
The Pit
 
Posts: 125
Location: Elk Grove, CA
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homeschooling kids cooking
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I’m confused… I’ve had outdoor kitchens for decades. I cook in my outdoor kitchen year round. Anything that would normally stink up the house is cooked in my outdoor kitchen, (bacon, fish, etc). It’s extra cooking areas for holiday gatherings, and it doesn’t heat the house in the summer. I have multiple grills, smokers, rotisserie’s, a convection oven (for summer time pies and baking). Fire pit, wood fired oven, etc.

It’s a covered and screened area so I can use it in foul weather and not worry about mosquitoes and flies in the summer.

So here is where I am confused… Why the excavation? I suspect there is a reason for something I missed. It seems like an area that would flood with water in a rainstorm and unnecessary (hence my confusion).

 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
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Location: Utah
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I discovered several years ago that I'm getting older. I know, quite a shock. :) Because of 50 years of intensive composting this area of the garden is a full 2 feet above the walkway. Access is by grabbing a t-post and jumping up. Chances are good that I will be in this house for the rest of my life, and I won't always be able to jump or even step up. I could have done this to the right, up more steps to a higher level with a smaller area, or to the left, which leads onto a hill once you get past the house. So that would have meant leveling the ground.

The stairs from the house are right across from the entrance. There's a railing on the stairs, but if at some point I can't walk easily I want to be able to walk across a stable surface without having to step up or down.

The soil in my yard is primarily sand so water soaks right in. When it does pool it's transitory. Storms are primarily limited to spring and fall, with snow in the winter that melts pretty slowly and usually has a chance to soak in.

If water becomes an issue I'll deal with it, but in all the years living here I've never seen water stay on the surface more than a few minutes.
 
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Can you use cement pavers that can be found at the hardware store? There are special ones that can be used for retaining walls. I've also seen the highway department use wire fencing filled with rocks as retaining walls. Maybe build a pallet wood "fence" for walls? You did mention that sand goes right through most things, so I wonder if you can make double rows of staggered blocks, pavers or pallet "fences" for the walls?

I'd think patio pavers would make a really nice floor for your outdoor kitchen.

I've seen cement blocks, all types of pavers and tons of pallets on craigslist for free.

Have you thought about using a solar oven? I've been able to figure out how to make them from looking at pictures and diagrams online. The first one I made was made from cardboard I bought at the Dollar Tree, and some glued-on aluminum foil. Worked like a charm. If you could come across some large election signs that somebody wouldn't mind giving to you or selling them cheap, that is lots better material to use and will last forever. If you could save up, you could get an All American Solar Oven, which would be awesome.

I wish you all the luck with your project and hope to see photos of it when you get it done.

 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
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Location: Utah
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I have a solar oven, which will have a dedicated place in the kitchen.

I'd thought of gabion walls (the stone walls with wire mesh) but the hardware cloth I have is supposed to be for my chicken coop so I'm uncertain on that one. Pallets would probably work. I'm not sure how long they would last. Probably more than long enough to figure out something else, though, so that's a good idea.
 
Lauren Ritz
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Ah! I have weed barrier in the shed, I could put it behind pallets and use the pallets for extra planting space. :)
 
Posts: 139
Location: Zone 4b Ontario, Canada
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Hi Lauren.  I have an idea but need more info.

* Do you plan on a roof, or leaving the space open?
* It looks to be circular in shape, making it 10' in diameter, correct?
* How cold does it get there?  
* How much heave in Spring?

Cheers!  K
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
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I haven't decided yet whether I'll be closing it in. Probably at least a lattice with vines growing over it, but right now I'm focused on the basics.
It is exactly 10 feet in diameter.
Temperatures range down into the single digits (rarely) but usually in the teens (Fahrenheit, -10 to -20 Celsius). We get 12-15 inches of water per year, mainly spring and fall, and heaving would depend on how much water we get. We got less than 10 in the past year, so the soil was pretty dry once I got past the layer of ice on the surface.
Heaving is usually pretty minimal, but I'm not sure how the vertical surface of the pit will respond.
 
M James
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Lauren Ritz wrote:Ah! I have weed barrier in the shed, I could put it behind pallets and use the pallets for extra planting space. :)



I love that idea!
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