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The Cultivator
Slips, Hoops, and Onion Soup
The CobraHead Newsletter
May 2015

Hello, Friends of CobraHead,


Last weekend I harvested the last of this year's peach crop and made two batches of peach crisp. The tree produced several dozen peaches this year.  The birds took some, but I still had more than I expected.  In fact, I'm surprised that I got a crop at all this year.  We had a late freeze in Austin that lasted for several nights while the tree was already flowering.  However, the tree did not drop its blossoms.  Then, shortly after the fruit had formed, leaf cutting ants stripped almost every bit of green from the tree, leaving only bare branches and tiny pods.  After the damage, I assumed that the fruit would remain small, or even drop.  But by early May the leaves had grown back and most of the fruit reached full size.


In this issue, Noel explains how he uses low tunnel hoop houses to harden off his vegetable seedlings directly in the garden.  He's also planted his sweet potato slips and describes his technique.  In addition, Judy shares a delicious onion soup recipe. 


Note our offer of 10% off everything in our web store (except the broadfork). Use this code at checkout:



What crop has given you a good harvest despite the odds? Drop me a line at


Happy gardening,

 Low Hoop Tunnels
Low Hoop Tunnels

Noel posts about how to use low hoop tunnels to make seed starting easier.


Crusted Onion Soup
Vegetarian French Onion Soup

Judy had to use up the onions from last year's harvest.  This was the delicious result.

Sweet Potato Slip

In cool Wisconsin, sweet potatoes need help to stay warm.  Black mulch does the job.   Read more.

CobraHead Weeder

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


Good through July 31, 2015

Shop 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 an offer to our newsletter readers from CobraHead: 10% off everything in our web store (except the broadfork). Use this code at checkout: plant15


Thank you,
Noel, Judy, Geoff and Anneliese
The CobraHead Team
                   Dame's Rocket in the Meadow Next Door
In This Issue
Low Hoop Tunnels
Onion Soup
Sweet Potatoes / Plastic Mulch



Welcome to the latest edition of our sporadic newsletter. It's peak planting time for us here in Wisconsin. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional time to get the tender crops into the garden. I've got my sweet potatoes in, and I'm ahead on peas, corn, potatoes, greens, carrots and beets and turnips.  Tomatoes, peppers, squashes, melons, celery, eggplant and my brassicas are all started, but not in their permanent home. Hopefully the next couple weeks will let me get caught up.


I had not fenced in my main garden area for several years, but when I came out to the garden a few weeks ago I saw that deer were munching on the strawberry plants.  The pea plants were getting to a size that would make a delicious snack for Bambi, so I took the time to set up a lightweight plastic mesh fence. I don't like to fence because it limits my easy access to the garden, but deer can quickly ruin one's work and protecting the crops without a fence is problematic.


Deer aren't the only exploding species that some people consider beautiful but are quite a nuisance. Dame's rocket (hesperis matronalis) is covering the roadsides around here and taking over meadows everywhere. It's not in my garden, but it's all along the edges of the property and has carpeted the meadow in the empty lot next door. Dame's rocket is still sold as an ornamental, it's quite pretty, but it's invasive in way too many natural areas.  


Another non-native that has gained a strong foot hold in my woods is garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata). I know it's edible, but I've got better things to feed on, so I'll attribute no redeeming qualities to that one.  I've got a lot of hand pulling coming up to try to beat it back.  At least Wisconsin doesn't yet support kudzu or fire ants.


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 an offer to our newsletter readers: 10% off everything in our web store (except the broadfork). At checkout use the code: plant2015


Thanks for reading our newsletter.


Noel and the CobraHead Team




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