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California Gardener's June Checklist
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Bill Marken added this to California Gardener's June Checklist
If you've been thinking about a pizza oven. A wood-burning oven, or pizza oven, is one of those features that can transform a garden — like a swimming pool, hot tub or, for that matter, basketball court. Here are a few things to think about if you are considering an outdoor oven. First, the obvious: Will you use it? Do you like to cook? Entertain outdoors? The oven can be the focal point of your entertaining. But it can be expensive, and all the accoutrements are expensive too: the peels, the $100 thermometers, firewood etc.Do you have a spot for an oven? It should be near the rest of your outdoor cooking area (grill, table). You don't just start the fire and walk away. Is there year-round access? You'll need a walkable surface near the oven, such as paving or a nonsoggy lawn.Can you light the area? Do you like to play with fire? Building and tending the cooking fire is the most critical step, and it's best if you enjoy it.What do you want the oven to look like? Typically, a terra-cotta dome is enclosed in insulated housing — which can look like anything you want. The oven shown here was designed by Ruth Chivers to complement a nearby patio and grill center with a contemporary Mediterranean look. The oven comes from Mugnaini of Watsonville, California, which imports from Italy. You can get a lot of ideas from the Mugnaini website. There are simpler gas-heated pizza ovens too, for instance from the high-end manufacturer Kalamazoo. In case you're wondering, after all my cautions, my family and I enjoy our oven a lot, and we've cooked pizza, roast pork, eggplant Parmesan, Thanksgiving turkey and more. Just don't try to justify an oven's cost, any more than you'd amortize the cost of fly-fishing by the money saved on trout eaten.