Archive for October, 2010

Moving Up in the Gardening World

Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Anneliese Valdes

Anneliese Valdes

Here is some recent CobraHead news that I want to share.  Anneliese was elected to the Mailorder Gardening Association Board of Directors.  The Mailorder Gardening Association has been an excellent organization for CobraHead.  Many of the major garden catalog firms are members and are our customers.  We have been active with MGA since we joined and now Anneliese will get to be involved in a lot of MGA planning.  We know it will help her in learning more about the garden industry, and we’re quite sure she will contribute a lot to the organization.  Here is the press release we sent out to announce her election:

Anneliese Valdes Elected to MGA Board of Directors

Cambridge, WI   October 14, 2010

Anneliese Valdes, Vice-President of CobraHead LLC,, has been recently elected to serve on the Mailorder Gardening Association’s Board of Directors for 2010-2011.

The Mailorder Gardening Association,, is a member organization of mailorder gardening and garden magazine companies. The ultimate goal of the MGA is to provide the finest gardening products, information, and service through the catalogs and magazines of its members.

Said Noel Valdes of CobraHead LLC, “Anneliese brings a younger perspective to the Mailorder Gardening Association at a time when the gardening industry as a whole struggles to reach out to the Generation Y gardening population.”

The organization meets twice annually to discuss and implement ways to make mailorder shopping for garden products successful for consumers. The MGA also sponsors a garden grant program for school age children to introduce them to the joys of gardening and the values it instills.

CobraHead LLC developed the CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator and markets that garden tool as well as other products geared towards organic home gardeners and small-scale vegetable growers.

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New East Austin Vegetable Garden

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Last week I gathered up some folks to help dig a new vegetable garden with friends Natalina and Kiko and their new daughter, Lola.  Natalina grew up with gardening in San Antonio and Kiko spent part of his childhood on a coffee farm in Colombia, but this was their first Austin garden.  Martin Perna came out to help with the endeavor.

Natalina and I used to both volunteer with a youth organization here in Austin.   Kiko and Martin are both working musicians and took advantage of the workday to talk shop.

Natalina and Kiko’s east Austin house enjoys the same good blackland prairie soil that I have in my yard.  Even though they have a big backyard, we decided to start with one 4′ by 12′ raised bed.  That still provided plenty of space for Sugar Snap peas, broccoli, kale, beets, carrrots and a greens mix.

Interested in helping out a new gardener?  Check out our New Gardener contest.

The initial forking of the new ground

Loosening the new ground with digging forks to make it easier to remove the bermuda grass and other vegetation.

Removing plant matter with long handle CobraHead

We used the long and short handled CobraHeads to remove the bermuda grass.

Quit planning your next musical collaboration and get back to work.

Double Digging

Double digging the new bed. Hard work in the heavy clay.

Profile view of bed

Even before adding any compost, the soil gets a natural lift from the double digging.

Lola and Natalina

Lola inspects the progress

Adding compost

Kiko adds compost to the bed.

Watering in with a fine mist

Natalina waters in the seeds and seedlings with a fine mist

Fresh figs

We took a break to enjoy fresh figs growing thirty feet from the garden.

Eggplant Parmesan

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Our eggplant harvest was prolific this year.  The extremely hot summer we had in Wisconsin probably had something to do with that!  Eggplant is a great addition to pasta sauces and veggie sautés’ but our all-time favorite is eggplant parmesan.

The original recipe came from the The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas.  Over the course of many years our recipe has changed a little but the basic concept is the same.  Sauté breaded eggplant slices and place in a baking dish, layer on cheese and pasta sauce, top with parmesan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  This dish could easily be made into a vegan dish with a couple of minor changes.

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2” thick rounds (we peel the skins)

Flour – unbleached or soft whole wheat with added salt and pepper

1 egg beaten with milk  (Vegans:  1 cup soy milk beaten with 1 T. Dijon mustard)

1 cup cornmeal mixed with 2 T. sesame seeds, salt & pepper & flour leftover from tossing

Note:  Leftover breading mix can be frozen for use on the next batch.

Olive or canola oil

½ lb. swiss, mozzarella or farmer cheese, sliced, or your own favorite dairy or vegan cheese

Pasta sauce – your homemade sauce is best

1 cup freshly grated parmesan, asiago, or vegan substitute

Toss prepared eggplant with flour mix in a brown paper bag, dip in egg or soy milk mixture, and then dip in cornmeal mix (may use breadcrumbs or mix of your own choosing).  Sauté in hot oil for about 2 minutes on each side or until browned.  Put in baking dish, lay sliced cheese on top, add 2-3 T. sauce and sprinkle with the freshly grated parmesan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

We usually serve our ‘little pizzas’ with linguine and extra sauce.  Soba noodles work nicely too.

FYI – I did try baking the breaded eggplant (using bread crumbs) on parchment paper in lieu of frying.  I haven’t totally perfected that method to my liking yet but we ate the results with salsa as an appetizer.  That’s called ‘not enough time’ for the complete meal!

Tell Us About a New Gardener and Win Great Prizes!

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Do you know a young gardener who you would like to help succeed? We would love to know more about them!  Tell us about a young or new gardener in your life, and you could win great prizes for that gardener and yourself!

The Contest:

Let us know about a new gardener that you want to help out.  Write three paragraphs or more telling us about them, their challenges as a new gardener, and why you want to help them succeed.  This gardener can be anyone from a young person who likes to help out in the garden, to an adult of any age who had their first garden this year.  Also tell us why you chose this person. You can write about anyone you like as long as you know them personally (relative, friend, neighbor, etc.), and they are relatively new to gardening.

How does this gardener inspire you?  Why have they started gardening?  Do they like to grow edibles, ornamentals, or both?  Do they come to you for advice?  Don’t feel limited by these suggestions, and feel free to include a picture of the gardener or their garden (with their permission, of course).

Email your entry to with the subject line “Young Gardener Contest” by November 12th, 2010.  The CobraHead team will then judge the entries and choose a winner.  The winning entry will be posted on our blog, and an announcement will also be made in our November newsletter.

What you’ll win:

The subject of the winning entry will receive a prize package that includes their own CobraHead, a Garden Padd kneeler, and a copy of the book “Good Bug, Bad Bug” by Jessica Walliser.  The author of the winning entry will earn a gift certificate for $25 good at

Good luck, and have fun!

A CobraHead Fan in Ireland

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

As a small business without a big advertising budget, CobraHead relies heavily on testimonials from happy users to get our story out to the world.  Yesterday, we were exceptionally pleased to be made aware of Ciaran Burke’s Garden Blog.  Ciaran, a professional gardener, garden writer, and photographer from County Mayo, in western Ireland, has some very nice things to say about our tool.

Ciaran was introduced to CobraHead by our good friend Shawna Coranado, a garden writer from Chicago.  Her two gardening websites are the The Casual and Gardening Nude

Shawna has been a true CobraHead champion, mentioning our tools on her garden blogs and talking up CobraHead wherever she travels.  Luckily for us, her travels took her to Ireland this summer.  We armed Shawna with a box of tools and she placed them into the hands of important garden people wherever she could.  Ciaran got a couple and we could not be happier with the results.

Have yourself a little trip to Ireland.  Please check out Ciaran’s blog and website.

Plant Television

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I got rid of the television and canceled cable.  Yet I still found myself staring at the empty space that the TV used to occupy.  What to do?  Time for plant television.

Plant Television

Even the calaveras have embraced green.

Now I can still sit on the couch, stare across the room, bits of drool forming at the corner of my mouth, and in the end feel virtuous about connecting with my bit of indoor nature.

What’s this Moth Doing in My Potatoes?

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

This big guy showed up while I was down on my hands and knees digging potatoes.  It landed right in front of me and didn’t try to fly away when I picked it up.  It is a really pretty moth.  Almost the whole underwing is pink, and the moth shows off the bright color when its wings are open.  All the pictures I shot with the wings open are blurred because of the moth’s wingbeats, but I posted one anyway, just to show what it looks  like.

I thought it was a hummingbird moth, but until I did a search I did not know for sure.  It’s a White-lined Sphinx Moth – Hyles lineata. It’s common to Wisconsin and not usually a pest.   It’s called a hummingbird moth because it is very big and noisy when it flies and it sucks nectar from flowers with a long proboscis, kind of like a hummingbird.  I thought this one was injured because it didn’t seem to be able to fly, but when I set it on the sidewalk to try to get some more pictures, it revved up to take-off speed and cruised away.

After the moth adventure, I went back to digging potatoes and unearthed the balance of my reds and purples that I had started to harvest a few days ago.  I only planted one bed of spuds this year.  I usually do two.  I still got a nice mix of over 30 pounds of the Red Durango and Purple Adirondack potatoes and I still have about a third of a bed left to dig, which will be mostly Rose Finn Fingerlings.

Battle of the Predators

Friday, October 1st, 2010

A few mornings ago I saw a praying mantis just outside my front door.  I rushed to get my camera and as I took the pictures, I wondered why she continued to pose for me.  Then I realized that a spider web enveloped some of her feet.

Praying Mantis Stuck on Wall

Stuck in an invisible spider web

I broke off the strand of web as best I could and let her climb onto a broom handle to find a new home.  I don’t know if the spider had already bitten her or not, but she still seemed to have some of her senses.

Praying Mantis and Rocky

Praying to Rocky Raccon for her good fortune

She chewed off some of the webbing on her front foot.  I don’t know if she could get this matted mess off of the back foot.  I didn’t want to try and get it myself, concerned that I might accidentally crush her foot.

Praying Mantis with web on foot

Foot covered with web

Moving her to a new home on the hierba santa plant, I wished her a speedy recovery.

Praying Mantis on hierba santa

New home on hierba santa leaf