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The Cultivator
Cold Frames and Hot Lasagna-The CobraHead Newsletter
March 2011
Hello, Friends of CobraHead,

I'm back in Austin after almost a month on the road for CobraHead.  My vegetable garden looks remarkably good thanks to drip irrigation and a trusted friend who checked in on things.  I'm already eating Sugar Ann peas right off of the vine.


At the Organic Farming Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin last month one of the growers spoke about the idea of transplanting with momentum in the vegetable garden; it's not about putting the biggest transplant into the ground but rather putting in a plant before it has become root bound and stunted even if it is not that big.  I had that idea in mind when I decided not to start my own tomato plants this year.  I knew that because of my travel schedule any tomatoes that I started from seed would languish while awaiting my return.  I'm not worried about tomatoes, though, because this weekend I will be exhibiting for CobraHead at the Zilker Garden Festival and have my pick of high quality transplants from numerous growers.  I have already prepped the tomato bed so that the plants can go into the ground as soon as I get home. 


This month Noel explains his new cold frame, and Judy shares a lasagna recipe with - you guessed it - sweet potatoes.  I also talk about an espalier project that I saw in Philadelphia that I'm now trying to replicate in my own garden.  In addition, we have a contest this month.  Send us a picture of the CobraHead or CobraHead Long Handle in action for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate.  See details below.


What are you starting from seed this year?  Drop me a line at


Happy Gardening,



Noel's Cold Frame
Noel's New Cold Frame


Build your own Cold Frame 

Noel explains how he used some free glass to make a cold frame season extender for his garden.  Want to see how to extend your vegetable gardening by over a month?  Read about it here.
Sweet Potato Lasagna
Sweet Potato Lasagna

Sweet Potato Lasagna

Yes, we are still eating last year's harvest of sweet potatoes.  Judy's experiment turned out to be wonderful.  Click here to see how to make this lasagna yourself.
Belgian Fence
Belgian Fence as done by Stoney Bank Nurseries

Belgian Fence

Geoff got inspired by this espalier fruit exhibit at the Philadelpia Flower Show and is now trying to replicate it in his own garden.  Read about how he is training seven pear trees to make a living screen for his front porch here.

Contest!  Show us the CobraHead in Action  

We are looking for pictures or short video clips of the CobraHead and the CobraHead Long Handle Weeder and Cultivator in action.  Send us a picture or video of you using the CobraHead in your own garden.  If we pick your picture or video for our website we will send you a $50 gift certificate good towards anything on our website.


If you like our newsletter and our products or if you have some suggestions, we'd love to hear from you.

If you have gardening friends or if you know potential gardeners who might be interested in CobraHead and what we have to say about gardening and eating, please to them. 
It is the mission of CobraHead to help people grow their own food and to provide exceptional products and services to all gardeners.  We try hard to "walk the walk" when it comes to issues of sustainability and in deciding what is best for ourselves and the environment as we grow our little company.  We've chosen to make our tools locally, here in Wisconsin, and we think that bigger is not necessarily better.  Gardening might just be earth's great hope, and in any case it's a great hobby.
Thank you,
Noel, Judy, Geoff and Anneliese
The CobraHead Team
In This Issue
Cold Frames
Sweet Potato Lasagna
Espalier Fruit

March is ending on a very cruel note.  It's officially Spring, but the weather gods don't seem to know or care, or maybe they are just out to get us.  Southern Wisconsin is experiencing the least desirable of all weather - freezing temperatures and lots of rain.  It's bone-chilling and makes outside work quite impractical.


Nevertheless, we are busily preparing for the new season.  Indoors I've got onions and sweet potatoes sprouting, and I'll be seeding eggplants, tomatoes, cabbages, and other crops to flats indoors in the coming weeks.  I was able to get some time outside in the garden beds last week before the bad weather came in.  I pruned my raspberries and cleaned up the asparagus bed.   I also dug out a big harvest of horseradish, which I've yet to prepare.  I want to do the major muddy root cleanup outside and it's just too nasty out there, right now.


I've built a cold frame which we feature in the newsletter, and I'll be planting salad greens into it as soon as it stops raining.  One of my garden tasks for the year is to improve my season extensions both for spring and fall.  I want to build some more cold frames and I may experiment with making a very cheap portable greenhouse using a garden canopy as the frame. 


I've never been great about succession planting, making sure I follow one crop immediately with another in the same space, and in making sure I've got multiple plantings of beets, carrots, lettuces, etc, so there is always something coming in.  That is another of this year's goals.


One other task that I have to fulfill is making my garden presentable to visitors.  I've been talking about the open raised bed method I use at several garden shows and the local Jefferson County Master Gardeners asked if they could have one of their summer meetings here so they can see what open raised bed food production is about.  So I'll have to be a little more judicious about weeding and having a garden that really looks like it is doing something.  The price of fame looks like it will be more work.


Judy and I are off this weekend to Rock Island, Illinois for the Rock Island Flower & Garden Show. 


It's a first time event for us, but we've heard good things about the show.  So if you are in or near the Quad Cities, come by and say hi.


Thanks for reading our newsletter.  We like to talk gardening and food.  Send us a line or comment.  And whatever your garden plans are for this year, we wish you much success.   


Noel and the CobraHead team.

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