Archive for October, 2009

From These Ashes a Garden Will Flourish

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

It was a perfect night for burning the brush pile. Thursday’s heavy rains had diminished to a very light drizzle. The pile is a collection of trimmings and fallen branches. This year we had two huge sections of trunk from an old apple tree that I took down in the spring. We had to use some dry cardboard and dry wood from the shed to get the fire started, but there was no danger of starting the woods on fire, which is always on my mind when burning anything in the yard.

After a while we had a roaring blaze. As the fire died down we cooked a collection of fall vegetables in the hot coals, just like we were camping. We baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, sweet peppers, and butternut squash. Judy coated the veggies with olive oil and wrapped them with cooking foil. We placed them on the hot coals, and in less than an hour, we had a delicious meal. The peppers were a little less than exciting and probably could have used some seasoning, but everything else was scrumptious.

The next morning the fire was still smoking. Anneliese and I have been working the remnants of the logs to try to get most of them burned up. We now have a pile of ashes, which are a good source of potassium. When the ashes are totally cold, I’ll carry them to the compost pile and work them in.

Using the CobraHead Long Handle Effectively

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

We began developing a long-handled CobraHead soon after we introduced our original CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator. It quite honestly was a reaction to older gardeners who at trade shows kept telling us, “that looks great, but I need it on a long handle.” When we got serious about making a long tool, we realized that just sticking the CobraHead blade on a hoe handle was not going to produce a very effective tool. We tested many blade shape configurations before we determined that positioning the blade so it was perpendicular to the handle gave us a totally new tool that was a useful device for gardeners of all ages and a vast improvement over similar narrow bladed tools that were previously marketed.

We also had to do a lot of work on developing an effective handle. The recycled plastic composite we use for the short tool cannot be used in a long configuration. We settled on a very traditional wood hoe handle. We also had to develop a locking collar that allows the user to replace the blade should it break. The collar gives the tool enough heft to make it effective in tough soils. It doesn’t just bounce off hard clay, but cuts into it.

Older gardeners and those who have trouble getting down on their hands and knees are quite happy with what we came up with, but we find we now have a market for the tool with small scale farmers, landscapers and of course both the vegetable growers and ornamental gardeners that make up most of our customer base.

Don’t think of the long handled tool as a short tool with an extension. The blade is the same, but the two tools are most often used in totally different manners. The long handle was specifically designed to help one garden while standing. And by standing, we mean standing upright, not hunched over the tool. We make different handle lengths, so even taller users will not find the length of the handle a hindrance to standing erect. The position we use most is to hold the tool like a broom and use a sideways sweeping action to drive the sharp edge of the blade into the soil or weed root. This action allows you to remain erect while working.

When holding the tool like this, with the blade out in front of you, there is a natural tendency to bend forward at the waist. This can lead to back ache and fatigue if done for long periods. So pay attention to your posture when working with this, or any long handled hoe-type tool. The CobraHead long handle is nearly as versatile as the short tool and it can be held any way that works, but we encourage gardeners to take care of their body – the most useful tool they have.

Besides weeding, you can use the CobraHead Long Handle as a cultivator and a finger hoe. You may need to put the blade out in front of you to use it in this manner, but again, you do not need to bend over the tool to use it effectively. It has reach advantage over the short tool and it allows you to do a lot of weeding while standing. It’s has the same cultivating action as the short tool. I use it for furrowing seed rows. We know that market gardeners and greenhouse growers like it to weed near and under drip irrigation hose lines.

If anyone out there has any questions regarding the long tool, please send us an-email or give us a call. We love to hear from you!