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The Cultivator
Leeks, Compost and Sweet Potato Stew
The CobraHead Newsletter
November 2013
Hello, Friends of CobraHead,

It's cold and rainy in Austin this week. For me, that's a good thing. Two weeks ago I planted 'green cloud' cenizo, Leucophyllum frutescens, also known as Texas sage; purple skullcap, Scutellaria wrightii; and fall aster, Aster oblongiolius, in my front yard. Some years, late November in Austin can have dry, 80 degree weather, and while that might be pleasant for the humans, it can stress recently transplanted perennials and shrubs.

I have been slowly replacing my front lawn with fruit trees, herbs, native, and adapted plants. Already, the Salvia greggii; pink skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens; rosemary; and assorted agaves and aloes have filled in the section of the yard around the plumcot tree. Near the peach tree, Mexican oregano, Poliomintha longiflora and root beer hyssop, Agastache rupestris, have taken hold, but some of the
other plants that I tried in that area did not make it, hence the aster and skullcap as replacements. The cenizos will hopefully grow into a pinkish purple flowering screen parallel to the driveway.

In this issue Noel shares the usefulness of comfrey as a means of growing one's own garden fertility.  He also talks about harvesting leeks, and Judy makes use of another abundant sweet potato harvest by preparing sweet potato stew with herb dumplings. Plus, we are offering 10 percent off of everything* on our site between now and the end of the year for our newsletter readers.

Who is trying to replace some or all of their lawn? Drop me a line at

Happy gardening,


CobraHead offers a 10% discount on all products (* except the broadfork). At checkout use the code:  holiday13

Sweet Potato Stew
Here is a hearty winter dish using, you guessed it, sweet potatoes.  See the recipe here.
Lots of Leeks

It's getting cold here in Wisconsin, but that doesn't mean gardening is over.   Noel talks about harvesting and protecting leeks.


Garden experts agree that comfrey is a perfect plant for the compost pile.  Noel used it to his advantage in rebuilding a pile.  See how 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.

Here's a holiday offer to our newsletter readers from CobraHead: 10% off everything in our web store (except the broadfork). Use this code at checkout: holiday13


Thank you,
Noel, Judy, Geoff and Anneliese
The CobraHead Team
In This Issue
Sweet Potato Peanut Stew
Harvesting Leeks
Comfrey for Compost


Zuri the Deer Deterrer

After a nice warm start, November is ending up on a very cold note with some single digit temperatures, and that is not normal. I'm making the best of it in the garden using some season extending layers of plastic and agricultural fabric to keep leeks, greens, Brussels sprouts, carrots and beets hanging on. I love pulling good things out of the garden late in the year. I keep telling myself I need a walk-in, heated greenhouse. One of these years . . .


While this year's garden will not go down in my garden hall of fame as one of the best ever, any garden is better than none, and we still ended up with a decent harvest. I tell beginning gardeners, plant several different things, something will always turn out okay.


This year it I got to heed my own advice as the garden languished in neglect for the month of July due to a very wonderful mention for CobraHead tools in the New York Times.


The deluge of resulting orders kept me totally out of the garden from the Fourth until early August. No weeding and lack of attention to simple details like trellising the tomatoes resulted in lost crops and decreased yields, but we still had plenty of food. One has to take the bad with the good, and the publicity sure was good.


We are looking forward to a most happy Thanksgiving as Geoff is coming up from Texas and bringing his girlfriend to spend some time with us. We're going to show the Texans some good Wisconsin weather. I hope they hang in for the duration of the planned trip. We aren't the coldest place in the nation, but it's still plenty cold, and when you are not from the north, it's just not nice. We hope you have a great Thanksgiving, wherever you are.


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.


Here's a holiday offer to our newsletter readers from CobraHead: 10% off everything in our web store (except the broadfork). At checkout use the code: holiday13


Thanks for reading our newsletter.


Noel and the CobraHead Team




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