Patio Prep

Western Washington is known for being a damp place with mostly overcast days, but for a few months, sometimes, as the sun begins to return in spring, things start to change. For a brief season, the sky opens up, and blue bird heaven crosses overhead with golden bright sun for a medley of pleasant weather. When this happens, you want to maximize your time outside. In the evenings, it’s wonderful to eat outside. At the main house, Bernard and I built rock gardens for our herbs and other edible treats. We have really enjoyed the space, and wanted to create more areas like this around the land for our visitors and renters. IMG_3535.JPG


The Red Barn Kitchen is used by our renters, with the future intension of being our workshop space for butchering classes and other farm food prep. It runs on a grey water system (meaning the water from the sink is caught in an underground tank which seeps the water through a series of percolation pipe into an orchard. It’s very similar to traditional septic, but committed to safe organic material from kitchen use, NOT black water from a toilet.

Just outside this kitchen is a simple garden space with a few herbs and a very important spigot location for irrigation. This same well tap feeds the sink inside the building, making it a very crucial vein in the life of the farm. A few winters ago, this pipe cracked on a particularly cold morning. I ran out in my sox and turned the cut off valve, which was a VERY smart design choice on the part of the previous owners (every external spigot should have a cut off valve near by). This accident set my mind to designing a better enclosure for the spigot, along with the enhancement of access to the water source and it’s surrounding gardens.


This brings us to the Patio Prep. Yes, we’re enhancing the living space around a key building and use site at Leafhopper Farm. This is where the permaculture fun comes into play. Design is good, good design is great! The best way I’ve come to work with the concepts of good design is embracing the mantra of enhanced function over time. This means, start with a concept, work with it, then enhance for better use. You can’t imagine the working space the way you can experience working in it to figure out the design needs. So, I’m going with what’s already available right now as a template, before investing in something permanent. The trick is to have nothing permanent, but everything constantly enhancing. Am I getting to Zen? Ok, to continue.

IMG_4939Right now there is a plan for the central area under the kitchen window to become the main patio area for summer hang out. Like the main house, a place to be outside in good weather makes a great seasonal room addition. That, in hand with our need to protect and insulate the spigot area will begin stacking functions in our permaculture planning. The young peach tree in the picture above, to the left of the near corner of the building, is being trained into an archway entrance for the patio space. The healthy Cascadian Hops on the other side of the corner have been relocated to another garden for now, as they are tenacious vines which almost ate the peach last year. They can come back to this area once a firm trellis has been constructed along the building and around the window. We might even extend the hop trellis over the whole patio space to create a natural awning in summer which will die back in winter to let the much enjoyed sun that does show her face, in through that southern window.


After digging out the area around the spigot, forming two round beds around each corner of the building, a foundation layer of gravel can go in against the foundation of the Red Barn. A new cap will be set over the shut off valve for the pipe, and better irrigation hardware will solidify this water source. Later this summer, we will acquire stone for the patio area and walkways. The collection of stone may or may not be a long term project, but we will certainly be able to source at least enough for the roughly 12’x 12′ initial space. This newly created habitat will also look out over the raised beds, which are slowly building up fertility for future growing needs.



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