Archive for the ‘Garden Tools’ Category

The Wellness Garden by Shawna Coronado

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Gardening is excellent physical and spiritual activity. Most who garden, love it and need it, but what would you do if pain or restricted movement from a debilitating disease were forcing you to give up gardening and your garden? Shawna Coronado found herself in that situation when she was diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis. Shawna was already an established garden writer and well-known gardening spokesperson when she came close to giving up gardening with the onset of this painful and physically limiting disease. We became friends with Shawna years ago. She is a champion of urban gardening. When first she learned of her health problems she was sure her gardening carreer was over.

But Shawna did not give up her garden. She tells the story of how she significantly relieved her pain and restored useful movement without resorting to pain-killing drugs. Through a rehabilitation program that she developed through her own research and by consulting with health professionals, Shawna found natural ways to ease the pain and improve her physical strength so she could continue her work and her love for gardening. Along the way she learned how important good food is to good health.

But the The Wellness Garden is a lot more than just Shawna’s journey back to active gardening and an active lifestyle. The book is an excellent tutorial on how to do physical work in non-stressing ways.  It’s a beautiful journey through public and private gardens around the country, with gorgeous photographs often illustrating easy to care for garden techniques.  It is a primer for low-stress exercise that can keep all of us in the garden longer.  Gardens are therapeutic and Shawna shows how to make them accessible to those with pain or limited movement. And the book is a celebration of good food and the nurturing, healing, and restorative powers of the things we grow.

I truly enjoyed reading the The Wellness Garden and I highly recommend it to all gardeners and to all those who want to know more about food and wellness.

The Wellness Garden by Shawna Coronado.  $24.99 Cool Springs Press.  Available on Amazon.

Prepping Open Raised Beds for Winter

Friday, December 1st, 2017
Open Raised Garden Bed

Open Raised Garden Bed

We’re taking advantage of good weather to get a lot of garden beds prepared for winter.  We’re loosening them up with a broadfork, pulling out most of the weeds, shaping them up neatly, and covering them with a thick layer of leaves.

Raked Smooth, Ready for Winter

Raked Smooth, Ready for Winter

I don’t use cover crops to protect the beds through the winter.  Cover crops are a good approach, as garden soil should not be left uncovered and bare, but I have an abundance of leaves, and covering the garden with them is a lot easier than planting another crop.   A bed all raked smooth as this one is will be ready to plant in the spring.  All we’ll have to do is rake back the leaves, which we can leave in the paths to break down and also act as a weed mulch.

Left – Done, Right – Not Done

Left – Done, Right – Not Done

Note the bed on the right, the one with the bucket.  It needs to be worked up, weeded, and re-shaped.

All Forked Up

All Forked Up

Here’s that bed after I worked it up with a broadfork and removed the weeds.

Shaped Up Bed

Shaped Up Bed

Here’s the same bed after it’s been shaped up and smoothed out using a five-tined cultivating hoe, an antique tool, that in my opinion should be made again, as it is so useful.



These are the four tools I use to work and shape my beds: a scoop shovel, a five-tined cultivating hoe, a broadfork, and a steel rake.

I maintain a large garden and the raised bed approach we use is working.  Our soil continues to improve and maintenance is in many ways a lot easier than it would be with a rototiller or any other more conventional approach.  From a sustainability aspect, using low technology and minimal outside inputs, I’m pretty sure this method ranks at or near the top of all home gardening systems.

Black Friday Garlic

Friday, November 24th, 2017
Ridged Garlic Bed

Ridged Garlic Bed

I try to plant garlic by the end of October.  This year it didn’t happen.  Having great faith in climate change, I knew I would get another opportunity or several before the ground froze too hard to work easily. Today the high temperature peaked at around 66 F and it was a quite pleasant day for planting, a very good way to spend Black Friday.

I plant garlic in ridges, three per bed.  I work up the soil in a bed until it is soft. The ideal tool for this is an antique five-tined cultivating hoe. I rake up the soil into three relatively equal ridges.  A steel rake is good for this. I tamp everything down with the rake after I have my ridges shaped as I want them.

Garlic Cloves

Garlic Cloves

This year I was fortunate to meet Greg and Cathy Kosmeder. They own Copper Kettle Farm in Colgate, Wisconsin and are small-scale organic garlic growers. The Kosmeders were vendors at the Wisconsin State Master Gardener Conference as were Judy and I. I came away from the Conference with two varieties of garlic which I added to our home-grown crop of no longer known origin. I seeded the center ridge with Extra Hardy German and Georgia Crystal from the Kosmeder’s farm, and seeded the outer ridges with our home-grown seeds.

Planting Garlic

Planting Garlic

I like to use six-inch spacing for these large cloves. I lay the cloves out on top of the ridges at their six-inch intervals, then come back and insert the closes into the soil, just covering the top of the bulb.  The Original CobraHead works very well as an assist for this. I could just push the cloves into the soil, but by pushing the CobraHead blade into the soil and shoving the clove down alongside the blade it makes the process cleaner, and easier.

Garlic Bed Covered in Straw

Garlic Bed Covered in Straw

A thick covering of straw ensures the garlic will survive the hardest freezes and will be sprouting very early next spring.

CobraHead Tools in Uganda

Monday, October 30th, 2017
Happy Gardener in Uganda

Happy Gardener in Uganda

I think Rose Berry bought her first CobraHead from us at the Madison Garden Expo many years ago.  Rose likes our products and she has purchased many tools for gardeners over the years. She let me know that she really could use a lot of CobraHead tools for a project she was involved with in Uganda. I let her know that I had a lot of obsolete but totally functional tools that I would be happy to donate.

Blue CobraHeads in Uganda

Blue CobraHeads in Uganda

Rose is involved in several projects that help Ugandans live better lives.  She got our tools to Africa and sent me pictures of the local people getting their CobraHead tools. I got the pictures but no background story so I asked for some information and Rose sent me this:

“We work with an amazing nun in Uganda named Sr. Salome.  I also work with Remembering Jesse Parker Inc. (You can see the documentary by going to News8000 and search Tears Into Water). Jesse’s Mom is a friend of mine here in Tomah.  Jesse died in an auto accident and aspired to a life of drilling water for Africa. In his honor we have now (in 7 years) drilled 51 wells.

Other projects we have there are a Diva Cup Project which allows adolescent girls to attend school during menstruation, a sewing project, a microloan project, a school sponsorship ($20. per year for primary school for a year), Photos For Peace (where we set up a photo site and take pictures of families (the only one they own), and more. 

The area is called Busalo and is about 70 miles west of Kampala near Mityanna. Laura (my daughter) and I have traveled there 3 times and love the people and their culture. 

Thanks again for your donation!  Your Cobrahead tool has made a difference in my life and it is making a bigger difference in the lives of people who depend on their gardens for life in Africa!

Yellow CobraHeads in Uganda

Yellow CobraHeads in Uganda

The world certainly needs more Rose Berrys and I’m happy we’ve contributed in a small way to helping people in Uganda to grow their own food.  I’m sure Rose and the projects she is involved with could use more help so feel free to reach out to her.  You can reach her at jfberry at centurytel dot net or contact CobraHead and we’ll forward any messages.

Children in Uganda

Children in Uganda

Gardening in Uganda

Gardening in Uganda

Talking and Writing About Gardening

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator

I started CobraHead to sell a tool I designed. I was quite sure my tool would be a help to a lot of gardeners. Since then, sales have proven what I knew when I started, the tool was a good one. Supposedly it was Emerson who said, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” I can assure you Ralph got it wrong. You can have a great product, but you have to sell it and sell it hard before anyone will even know it’s out there.

CobraHead Logo



Fifteen years into our CobraHead venture it’s obvious no one would know anything about the tool if I didn’t become a marketeer to extol its virtues to the public. Word of mouth happens, but it’s way too slow. You have to fuel the fire. There is so much noise out there and so many people claiming, just like me, that they’ve got something people need to buy. Selling is actually the most time consuming part of the business. Fortunately, I was a salesman before I started the company, and I‘ve learned a whole lot about marketing since we first launched.

Magazine Ad


We’ve chosen a relatively low key approach to marketing our company. Print advertising hasn’t been our best venue. We don’t do a lot of it. We’ve found many lower cost tools to get our message out. Maintaining a blog is quite inexpensive. Talking about gardening at trade shows and garden conferences can cost almost nothing and I often get paid for doing it. And while I almost never talk about my tools directly, the association and connection to our company through blogs and public appearances strengthens the perception that I’m a gardener who walks the talk.

The CobraHead Blog

Very early into our history, we found out about a group called the Garden Writers Association. We began attending their conferences with the specific purpose of getting tools into the hands of garden writers with the hope they would like the tool and mention it in their articles and talks. That has proved to be our most successful method of gaining publicity, but attending the conferences also taught us about writing and presenting. Now, while I hardly consider myself a garden writer, I really am one. It’s just not my full time job.

PowerPoint Slide Show

While I’m not on the speaker’s circuit, I’ll be giving three talks on gardening at our favorite garden show, the Madison Garden Expo, coming up in February. I’m talking about growing garlic, growing sweet potatoes, and the raised bed method of gardening that I employ. In none of these talks do I hard sell my tools, but they do generate sales for us at the show and after.

Facebook Page

Social media is the newest selling tool out there and it can be low cost. We maintain a Facebook page, but so far, Twitter, Pinterest, and other such venues are yet to be explored. It probably will be a while before we jump in with those.

Promoting CobraHead has taught me a lot about marketing and certainly has improved my gardening knowledge just by being associated with the garden industry and trying to figure out ways to become a stronger part of it. I’ve met hundreds of people in the industry and many of them are, like me, trying to show others the value of gardening. I’ve learned a lot from them.

CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator Chosen for the Top 8 Manual Weeders of 2017

Monday, January 16th, 2017

The CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator was chosen by Ezvid Wiki as the #2 garden weeder for 2017. That means we are #1 small hand weeder since their #1 selection is a stand up weeder for weeding the lawn.

Here’s the link:

Layered Compost Pile

Monday, October 10th, 2016
Compost Pile

Compost Pile

It looks like a pile of straw, but it’s really a very structured compost pile. I built it over the weekend. It’s layered and there is actually not that much straw in it.

My raw ingredients included a pile of two seasons worth of garden debris – weeds, stalks, trimmings and anything else organic collected around the yard and garden that was not super woody. It was mostly already broken down and partially composted. I had a completely broken down 55 gallon drum of household scraps, which was now only about 40 gallons, full of worms, and no stink left. I had a huge collection of recently pulled still green weeds, consisting mostly of galinsoga (quickweed), which I’m letting become my weed of choice in the garden. I had a couple small square bales of rotting straw, lots of stalks of sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes, and finally, comfrey, which I harvested and layered in as I was building the pile.

I made a platform of soil with raised up edges. The base of the pile is 6 feet by 10 feet. Then I started layering everything. We had just finished a couple weeks of very rainy weather so I didn’t add any water, it was wet enough. My first layer was sunchoke stalks, followed by a layer of compost, followed by green material, either weeds or comfrey. After the pile was about 18 inches tall, I began working in layers of straw. Between each layer of straw, green material or stalks was a layer of compost or partially composted soil. As I was building the pile, I walked on top of it to compress it, trying to keep the pile as square as possible and leave no gaps or air pockets.

I ended up with a very dense pile almost 4 feet tall. I put a lot of straw on the top layer so it would shed water. By the time I finished, the pile had already begun to heat up and this morning most of the lower half of the pile had reached a temperature of 85 F., so I’m not worried about it breaking down. It will cook very quickly.

Compost Pile Tools

Compost Pile Tools

Here’s a picture of the tools I used to make the pile. The garden cart was used to haul straw, the wheel barrow used to haul garden debris. The manure fork is a most perfect compost fork for tossing everything but loose soil. The small pointed “SpearHead” shovel is better than a wider traditional spade for slicing into soil and moving a lot of soil without wearing yourself out.

And my favorite tool, the antique five-tined cultivating hoe, was used to clean the ground to prep the pile bed, rip apart debris, and loosen compacted soil. It would have been a lot more difficult without it. This tool will let me easily keep the paths around the pile weed free.

Compost is the key to successful gardening and is the safe and sustainable approach to garden nutrition. One doesn’t need an elaborate pile like this. Compost as they say, just happens, by letting organic material break down, but the process can be sped up and the finished product made more usable when a structured system like this is used.

Ergonomic Garden Tools: Your Best Friend When Planting to Attract Pollinators

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Planting to Attract Pollinators

  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, 75-80% of all flowering plants and staple crop plants depend on animal pollinators to produce seeds and fruit. We tend to think the pollinators are hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, but often times, pollinators such as ants, beetles, moths and bats do their jobs unseen by the human eye. Using an Ergonomic Garden Tool like the CobraHead, there are several easy steps that you can take to attract a wide range of important pollinators.

How to Create Pollinator Friendly Gardens

  • Use a wide variety of plants that flower at various times
    • Select plants that flower from spring to fall, and remember that night blooming plants will attract moths and bats. Plant in groupings, rather than individual plants, using Ergonomic Gardening Tools, which will make the job easier.
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers
    • Hybrid flowers, especially those with double blooms, often lack the pollen, nectar and fragrance that pollinators need.
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible.
    • Pesticides will eliminate the pollinators that you are trying to encourage, as well as pests that you don’t want. Cultivating often and keeping weeds under control with an Ergonomic Gardening Tool can help keep unwanted pests at bay.
  • Include plants for the larvae
    • If you want butterflies, use plants that attract the caterpillars, and plant them in a place where the patterns of munching larvae won’t be an eyesore.
  • Create non-plant items that can attract pollinators
    • You can have some fun creating items for your gardens that will attract pollinators. Things like bee condos, bat houses, damp salt licks, and hummingbird feeders can be decorative as well as useful. Don’t forget that butterflies love rotting fruit, so toss those scraps into your garden, where the butterflies will enjoy the treat. Once decomposition begins, you can work them into the soil using your Ergonomic Gardening Tool like a CobraHead, giving a nice nutrient boost for the plants!
  • Education is key
    • If you want to encourage pollinators in your gardens and landscape, it is best to learn more about pollination. There are scores of books and online resources that will help you define what pollinators live in your area, and choose the correct plants for your climate that will attract them.

CobraHead – The Ultimate Ergonomic Garden Tool

When you are gardening to attract pollinators, the CobraHead will be useful for every gardening task: weeding, cultivating, scalping, edging, digging, furrowing, planting, transplanting, de-thatching, harvesting and more. The CobraHead long handle Ergonomic Garden Tool is available in 3 handle lengths to be comfortable for people of any height, as well as interchangeable between left and right handed use. The short handled CobraHead is designed to be an extension of your hand, giving you unbeatable flexibility getting into tight areas. Once you have experienced the ease of using the CobraHead Ergonomic Gardening Tool, you will never go back to any other tool again! Don’t waste another day using less effective tools – shop with us today!