Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Howling Moose Gardens is back!

Just ignore 2013. *stuffs last year behind a curtain*

I've been planting like crazy for the last two-ish months, and have 2500 or so plants (greens, mustard greens, asian greens, lettuces, chards, arugula and such) moved into the large greenhouse troughs (see pic), and another 2500 sprouting in the seedling tables.

Seedlings (at a 2" spacing)

This year, I'm using White Sucker fish, which are native to Minnesota (and much of the upper midwest and east coast), so they should take the cold winters just fine, assuing I can keep the water from freezing.

I got 1000(ish) white sucker fingerlings yesterday:

White sucker fingerling.
The black net pot on the right is a 2 inch pot.

Things are growing well!
Lettuce. The dirty-looking surface is due to
a folier spray of maxicrop, which is red.
Tatsoi, one of my favorite greens.
Plant spacing in the greenhouse is 6 inches,
on a hexagonal pattern.

Things sure have changed, haven't they?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

WEI Aquaponics Workshop Sept 15-16th

Will Allen of Growing Power, at WEI
Wanna learn more about aquaponics and meet Will Allen of Growing Power, but can't make it to Milwaukee? Every year WEI (Women's Environmental Institute) hosts an aquaponics (and so much more!) training weekend a bit outside of North Branch, a less than an north of the Twin Cities.

I attended two years ago, and I may be talking briefly this year. We're also working on including a tour of my greenhouse, probably on Sunday afternoon, after everything else is over.

Scholarships available.

This is an awesome weekend! And they're low on registrations this year.

Topics to include:

  • Hoophouse Building
  • Composting and Vermiculture
  • Four Season Growing in Minnesota
  • Four Season Aquaponics and Fish Care
  • Micro-enterprise Farming
  • Passive Solar Greenhouse Building
  • Organic Mushroom Growing
  • Medicinal and Culinary Herb Farming
  • Using a Root Cellar for Food Storage
  • Microgreen Production
  • The Role of the Chef in the Good Food Revolution
  • Beekeeping and Honeymaking
  • Small Farm Business Planning
  • Organic Garlic Farming 
  • & more!

More info! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New video tour of greenhouse

Hi all!

I know I seriously owe a thorough update on what's been happening at the greenhouse. But until I get that written, watch a video!

Includes progress on the mostly-constructed 2nd greenhouse, starting around 3:00, and a quick view of the catfish, at 4:45. Full video is 7:30 long.

I also went out (with my new intern, Jack) to Bossy Acres last Thursday to help harvest, and to pick up some selling and marketing tips.

Holy cabbage, Bossy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mushrooms to the rescue

Someone over on the BYAP forums commented on Mycelium Running in my book box.

I love the idea of mushrooms, even though I'm not terribly fond of the taste of most of them. But what excites me the most is that, as the author (Paul Stamets) of this book has proven, mushrooms are really, really good at breaking down petroleum, and therefore may play a critical role in cleaning up our environment.

So, here in the United States (not sure how true this is in the rest of the world), we have a big problem with water polluted by drugs: caffeine, prozac, estrogen etc.  If mushrooms can break down petroleum, could we find (or engineer) one that would break down drug molecules?

For those of us trying to close our personal loops (with grey water systems, etc) drug-busting mushrooms could become a critical part of our home (or business) ecosystems.

Failing that, buy my friend Jeremy's Cherry Tree House Mushrooms at Seward Coop!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Channel Catfish added to the menagerie

Hello all;

I've been continuing on just fine after the SandKAP partnership dissolved. It's nice to be solely in charge again.

My first greenhouse is in full production (although the troughs aren't quite yet full of plants) but growth has been slow because of the lack of fish. I haven't yet had a harvest, but I expect one in the next couple of months!

The second greenhouse is getting close to being finished. Two troughs are complete (except uniseal plumbing and aeration stones, and the other two are well on their way. I still need to put in and plumb the fish tanks (IBCs for now, probably custom built later) and the gravel beds.

Willie (left) and Mike working hard, supervised by Jones.

This greenhouse should be done in a few weeks.
This pic is a bit old, I'll put a new one up soon-ish.

I got 1000 channel catfish today (from Osage Catfishery). I chose Osage because they sell to the Minnesota DNR. I piggybacked on the yearly DNR order, so my cats came up on the same trucks as the DNR fish. Saved a TON in shipping!

Just arrived! Master test kit for scale.
Sorry no scale. They're 2-3" long.
Acclimating the catfish to the new system.

I put the catfish in a trough right now because I don't have a tank ready. I have a screen I can use to corral them to make them easier to net back out.

With the addition of the cats, I now have (in the order of purchase): Yellow Perch (about 100), Tilapia (about 250), Mosquito fish (about 80) and channel catfish (about 1000).

This will probably be still too few fish for one greenhouse. While I love using the IBCs for fish tanks, I think I'm going to build my own tanks, so I can make them bigger so I can hold more fish for each GH. (The IBCs are plumbed so I can easily add more into the system, but there's limited physical space to put them).

Also, I like adding fish slowly, so I don't max out the system. I'd much rather have a slow startup than a massive fish kill.

I have also started bringing on interns (it's a non-paying gig for now).

For those interns, I'm taking all of my gardening/AP/Sustainable Ag-type books to the greenhouse to start a lending library.  Not a bad start! (All bought back when I had a paycheck! Click pic to embiggen, if you're into reading book spines...)

Lending Library

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Moose is back!

Hi all!

I am very sad to report that my business partner and I have decided to dissolve the Swanberg and Khan Aquaponics partnership. Therefore, I will be taking back sole control of this aquaponics business, and I will return it to its original name, Howling Moose Gardens.

This split was amicable, and I wish my old partner the best of luck, and I hope he continues in the AP business.

It will take a while for me to migrate the webpage and blog back to the Howling Moose Gardens namespace.

Thank you very much for your patience with this!

-Karen Swanberg

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's moving day

Hello all!
I know it's been ages since I've posted. Things have been afoot! Among them, Howling Moose Gardens has become Swanberg and Khan Aquaponics (SandKAP)!

This means a new webpage (, and a new blog,

So, head on over to SandKAP for future updates!

I'll keep this blog around for archival purposes, but future postings will be elsewhere.
Thank you for your patronage.

Karen Swanberg