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The Cultivator
Ratatouille, Microgreens and Cabbage Worms
The CobraHead Newsletter
August 2012
Hello, Friends of CobraHead,

In the last newsletter I mentioned how our summer had been relatively mild.  Well, August has been hot, with many days in the triple digits, and no significant rainfall.  That said, I've been harvesting abundant okra, basil, hot peppers, molokhia and the occasional fig.  I have a volunteer sweet potato patch that's almost as big as the one that I planted.  I'll find out in November if it gives me any tubers.

I've been growing microgreens as a way to supplement my garden harvests.  I describe the growing method in a post below.  We've had great success growing microgreens with the young people of the Save our Youth program as well.    

Up in Wisconsin, the garden harvests have been plentiful, and Judy shares a hot dish recipe that can be modified to accommodate your own produce.

Noel and I have both been experimenting with neem oil and he has had excellent results using it to control cabbage looper worms.  You can read more about it below.

Next month Anneliese and I will be exhibiting at the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, California.  If you are in the area, the show is beautiful and worth attending.

Do you have a favorite youth garden program?  Drop me a note at
Worm Free Cabbage
Worm Free Cabbage

Noel has had excellent results using neem oil to control cabbage loopers as well as some other garden pests.  Read more here.
Judy's Potato Ratatouille
Judy's Potato Ratatouille

Hot Dish?  Casserole?  Veggie Bake?  Ratatouille?  Whatever you call it, it's good.  Judy shows how to use the produce that you have on hand to make this delicious dish.  See the recipe here.
Sunflower Microgreens
Sunflower Microgreens

Want to sow a crop that you can harvest in a week to ten days?  Try Microgreens.  Tasty and a great way to fill in gaps in the garden harvest.  Click here for Geoff's step-by-step instructions.


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
Neem Oil
Judy's Potato Ratatouille
Sunflower Microgreens


August Harvest from Noel's Garden
August Harvests
I hope all the gardeners out there are having as bountiful a harvest as we are.  The very hot and early season didn't do our garden any harm as we were able to water when necessary.  Most of the crops are above average and now we're having trouble keeping up with the incoming produce.  Our Wisconsin weather has settled down to more normal cooler temperatures and we are getting some regular rainfall, so for now, all is good.

I tried a few new growing methods in the garden, some of which worked well and others which didn't quite pan out.  The biggest success was in planting many of my starts directly from indoor seedlings cups to a poly covered hoop house.  This saved me hours of potting off the seedlings into larger pots.  The starts flourished, possibly due in part to the very hot early spring, but it was so successful, I'll try it again next year.  Here's the link to the process.

One thing that did not work too well was planting potatoes into trenches, which I describe here.  As the potatoes sprouted, I found it hard to gather up the dirt in the trenches to effectively hill the plants.  I think a better method may be to just dig a deeper hole, maybe with a post hole digger as suggested by a reader, drop in the seed potatoes and add dirt and hill as they grow.  The harvest I got from the red potatoes I planted this way was only okay, so it seems I gained nothing from a lot of extra work.

I had very good success with the use of neem oil as an organic insecticide.  Please see the post to the left.  We are having a worm free brassica harvest and the neem spray also seems quite effective for squash bugs.  I'll be refining my use of it next year.  Neem oil does seem to have huge potential for home gardeners.

I've also been using a broadfork more and more to prepare my raised beds for planting.  You can see a demonstration video that Anneliese and I shot here.

The garden is never the same from year to year and gardening allows creativity even for people who might not consider themselves especially artistic or inventive.  There is a wealth of gardening information to build upon, but you are free to do your own thing.  I like growing new varieties and I like trying different ways of improving planting.  The rewards of a vegetable garden are, of course, good food to eat, but I also find it a great mental stimulus and physical exercise to keep me fit.  I've convinced myself that small scale gardening and food growing is the solution to many of the world's problems and I'm finding I'm not alone with that line of thinking.

We have some winners of our $50 gift certificate giveaways for newsletter sign ups we solicit at garden shows.  We drew Cheryl Simon at the Upper Midwest Master Gardeners Conference in Chaska, Minnesota, and we picked Christine Violet from the entries we received at the Kickapoo Country Fair in La Farge, Wisconsin.  Congratulations!

We'd like to remind all our readers that we love to grow our own food and to help others do the same.  We post articles about food growing and cooking with home grown food on our website blog, and we almost always have a discussion or several going on about food and growing on our Facebook page.  You can help us spread the word by forwarding this newsletter to a friend and if you have any gardening questions, drop us a note.  If we can't help you we'll find someone who can.

Thanks for reading our newsletter.

Noel and the CobraHead Team
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