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The Cultivator
Spirooli and Seed Starting Success - The CobraHead Newsletter
January 2012
Hello, Friends of CobraHead,

Winter has been mild here in Austin.  I've had a couple of frosts in my yard, but no severe freezes.  Despite a few needed showers, I had to reconnect my drip irrigation yesterday for the two beds that are producing greens, brassicas, peas, radishes, carrots and beets.  The broccoli raab has petered out, but the kale is now coming on board and I have an abundance of chard and mizuna.  

I've already started my hot peppers indoors, as I write about in one of the posts below.  This week I'll also be direct seeding more greens outside as well as starting a flat of them indoors to plant outside next month.  My goal this year is to harvest greens from my garden several times per week for all 52 weeks, no matter how hot or how cold it gets here.  So far, so good (and I mean good.   I love greens for breakfast).

Last week my sister, Anneliese, and I went to San Diego for the Direct Gardening Association conference.  At the conference, we received a Green Thumb award for our BioMarker plant markers.  You can read more about BioMarkers below.  We also had a chance to hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve named after the Torrey pine, the rarest pine tree in North America.  

Also in this issue, Judy shares her technique for using a spirooli to make curly oven fries with white and sweet potatoes.   Delicious.  

What is your big gardening goal for this year?  Drop me a line at

Happy gardening,

Hot Pepper Seedlings
Hot Pepper Seedlings

In Austin, it's not too soon to start your own pepper plants and the date is approaching even in more northern states.  See how a heat mat can dramatically improve germination rates for pepper seedlings.  Read more here.

Our BioMarker plant markers won a Green Thumb award from the Direct Gardening Association this year.  This is a new product for us, and we've been really happy with how easy that they are to read as well as their durability.  Click here to learn more.
Turning Slicer
Spirooli Is Where It's At!

Want to keep Judy happy?  Get her a new kitchen gizmo.  She has been cranking out curly veggies left and right ever since Anneliese got her a spirooli.  See her recipe for oven baked sweet and white potato curly fries here.


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
Starting Hot Peppers
BioMarkers Win Green Thumb Award


Winter Weather
Winter Weather
The weather was too good to last.  After one of the warmest Decembers ever and almost two weeks of a warm January with no significant precipitation, winter weather finally showed up.  We've now had two major snows and some below zero nights.  It's warmed up just enough to bring in some freezing rain.  So now it's January in Wisconsin as it should be.  I actually like my garden to freeze up and get covered over with snow, but I'm hoping that the rest of the winter isn't too brutal.  That warm weather is not hard to take.

Last week the snow postponed a garden talk I was to give in West Bend, about 75 miles from here.  This weekend we gave another talk and exhibited at a garden show in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Fortunately, our timing got us in to Valpo just before a nasty little storm which was quickly cleaned up by the time we had to exit Indiana.  Driving in snow is the main downside to winter and driving in snow through Chicago is torture.  We got a break and I'm happy.

I've been planning my 2012 garden, not on paper, only in my head.  I've got nothing started yet but sweet potatoes in mason jars and some salad greens under grow lights, but I've been studying the seed catalogs and thinking about what I want to do new this year.  At the top of my list is to try to get a more continuous harvest.  I want to do more succession planting, putting in a second crop after the initial planting has been harvested to have a bigger variety of greens and other veggies coming in a constant stream.

I also want to get some plants in earlier in the spring and keep some things going longer.  I'll put my coldframe to work and I may experiment with a low tunnel covered with poly instead of agricultural fabric.  With it, I can have a cheap unheated greenhouse and get a few more weeks of growth on both ends of the season.

This year we'll continue to encourage people to grow their own food.  Hopefully we'll offer some help and maybe even some inspiration with ideas from our newsletter and website blog.  Growing food is not hard, it can be very economical, and the food you grow for yourself is most often better than what you can buy.  Here's to making 2012 a great growing year.

Noel and the CobraHead Team
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