After much obsession last winter watching Jamie at Home, Owen and I decided to fashion a portion of our backyard after our foreign hero Jamie Oliver's Kitchen Garden. While we don't exactly have a large country estate with brambly hedges, chickens, a working al forno oven, a resident gardener and the most exquisite veg patch; we do have skills, diy mentalities and a little bit of a plot in our humble abode.
What started with problem solving turned into a very creative use of space. Our yard is southern facing with a tall fence at the back (= a dark, wet, shady retreat). When we moved in 2 years ago we transplanted the existing apple tree to the back lane and espaliered it along the fence. We then planted more raspberries in lieu of the apple, because they can handle wetter, shady sites, and what was left was a blank area that we then turfed with sod. This attempt at grass led to a mud pile in the off season and a wet passage accompanied by mosquito clans in the summer months.
Our solution was to utilize this space with something different. A little digging, some serious creative sourcing and voila a bbq pit. We became intrigued by Jamie's use of coal and wood burning cooking techniques that we decided to give our propane Weber a natural friend. Our pals tipped us off to a great lighting method called a Charcoal Chimney Starter and some All Natural Coals which can be found at any hardware store or capers market. On a trip to a used building supplier we came across a great 24” silver dome with a hole at the base. We later discovered it was salvaged casing from a light that once lit a baseball stadium. My dad would be proud! We figured if it could withstand the heat of those lights, a little fire wouldn’t hurt it. We perused Craigslist for weeks in search of a second hand Weber lid, but got no where. Luckily our neighbour had an old Webber not in use and gave us her lid in exchange for some gardening help!
To be honest our propane Weber played second fiddle all summer as the ‘pit’ got a lot of use. Pre-Party conversation, Mid Party cook off, Post Party warm up. Picture a coal Weber (but silver dome substitue) sunk flush in the ground, backfilled with pea gravel and surrounded by herbs. Crazy yummy meals and a natural heat lamp. Jamie would be proud.