At the first signs of Spring—buds on the trees, tulips waving in the breeze—Ontarians are out of hibernation, sporting sandals and shorts and ready to soak up the sun.
The best way to enjoy the outdoors this Spring, Summer and early Fall is to build yourself a backyard oasis that you can enjoy with minimal upkeep.
START By Cleaning Up!
Whether thanks to the winter weather or ice storms, there’s always some clean up to do in the Spring to bring your garden up to drool worthy status.
- Weed the garden beds
- Remove any fallen debris / autumn leaves
- Seed / sod your lawn after prepping the soil
- Trim the hedges
- Take out the patio furniture and wash it all down!
OUTFIT Your Outdoor Cooking Space With Necessary Herbs And Spices!
Eleven of them, to be precise. Not that we’re being copycats here, but there are in fact eleven excellent herbs that flavour up cooking for all tastes, that you can grown in containers near your patio.
Having your own stock means no rushing to the store to buy a great big bunch of something, when all you need is a few leaves to complete your recipe. Some of these herbs are more susceptible to being eaten up by bugs and animals, so just keep that in mind:
- Bay leaf
Container gardening is a great way to grow some (or all) of these lovely herbs and has the advantage of being moveable. You might find that at certain times of year, the bees are loving your edibles, so you might want them slightly further away from your eating area. By using containers, you can move them away from the dining area, which will keep the stingers at bay.
Other plants that you shouldn’t place right next to the patio, if you want to avoid bees and wasps? This is just a sampling:
- Cedar trees
- Flowering chives
- Apple trees (or any fruit bearing tree, for that matter!)
CLEAN Up Your Gas Grill!
Now onto the good stuff! If you’re not the type who BBQ’d all winter long, complete with parka and oven mitts, it’s time to take the cover off your favourite grilling appliance. Spring cleaning isn’t just for the indoors!
Steps to get your grill ready for a season of delicious:
- Detach and clean the grates and burners. You’ll need a special brush, called a venturi brush, to really get through the burners and remove any debris left over from last season! A brass wire brush is perfect for cleaning the burners to a spotless shine.
- Soap and water are good for the grills, after which you can apply a little oil to season them for your next grilling session.
- If there is a grease build up in the base, use a hard edged spatula to scrape down to the drip pan, removing any excess.
- Then, remove and thoroughly clean the drip pan. Add a foil liner to make this job easier, if you haven’t do so already!
- Inspect the hoses to make sure nothing is frayed or damaged. That includes the hoses to and from your propane tank or to and from the house, if you’re connected directly; and check to see that the ignition is working correctly and the gas is flowing.
BETTER Still… Invest In A Pizza Oven
There is nothing better than a wood fire oven for the best, most delectable artisan style pizzas. Forget the takeout number and install one of these instead!
Easy to put together, quick to heat up… you’re on your way to pizza night with a twist. We’ve already given you the best recipe for a pizza base here, so this time, let’s look at some variations on toppings that you might not have thought of! Sure, we’ve all had our share of pepperoni, or all-dressed pizzas. Some of us even go for a little pineapple and ham… but what about chicken tikka pizza? Or how about goat cheese and blackberries with a dash of honey?
Chipotle cajun shrimp pizza anyone?
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 chipotle chile adobo (canned)
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 ounces blue cheese or goat cheese crumbled
- Chopped green onions, or try chives for a less intense onion flavour, and chopped cilantro for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toss the shrimp with the olive oil, seasoning, brown sugar, chipotle chile and adobo sauce in a bowl. Let it sit for a 30 minutes in the fridge.
- Sear the shrimp in a medium hot pan for 3 minutes per side. NO MORE as they will continue to cook on the pizza.
- Get out your prepared dough and spread your favourite base sauce on the pizza. Adding a little of the cajun seasoning to your sauce, will bring it all together.
- Spread a layer of cheddar cheese, then your shrimp, then a little more cheese.
- Bake in your oven until the cheese is melted and gooey and garnish with the onions / chives, cilantro and blue / goat cheese.
Now that you’re set to enjoy your backyard oasis, enjoy every moment you can: Canadian Spring and Summer is fleeting!