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242. Raising Pigs | Kosloski Farms | Kara Kosloski | Rockstar Millennial and OGP Listener
7th August 2018 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:11:34

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Welcome to the Organic Gardener Podcast today it’s Friday, July 27, 2018! Kara is a listener and a farmer and a gardener and a ROCKSTAR MILLENNIAL! here to share her farming and gardening journey raising pigs and eating healthy.

Kara Kosloski Raspberries

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m from Michigan, that’s where I lived till now. I work in marketing

I worked at Fair State University in Marketing. It’s my full time day job

I have married for 10 years. My husband and I like doing anything outdoors.

  • hunting
  • farming

I’m big into holistic health, all in general

  • exercise
  • spirituality
  • gardening
  • anything I can eat!

So we connected in the Facebook group, and my big question is how did you find the Facebook Group, it never occurred to me that there are people in groups that don’t listen to the host’s podcast. So do you listen to the podcast?

So, I have an hour commute to work, 2 hours a day I’m driving.

I discovered podcasts, to just pass the time, and I said what am I into? 

I’m into gardening! That’s what I listen to, I started doing a search, I started listening and that’s how I found your Facebook group because you must have mentioned it on the podcast.

I just love podcasting because of that! And I’m so glad you’re here and you probably know how I start the show!

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

So, my previous job I worked at the YMCA.  We had just started a community garden though a grant! I had always been interested in gardening. I never gardened as a kid so I joined the committee as a liaison through business hoping I could learn some more about

I started with a 10 x 20 plot. What they did for the gardeners is they split halfway organic/non-organic. So I thought how do you keep the organic side, the good from the other side?


That’s how the Rodale’s Farm Test Trial started about 40 years ago. I’ve been doing lots of experiments this year, I just started some fall brocolli plants, putting some seeds indoors and some outside.

Since it was my first experience

It went relatively well for a first garden

I had trouble keeping up with the weeds!

learning experience for me

  • how do I plant?
  • how do I maintain things?

so exciting to see things grow

the next year my husband and I

15 acres at home

scouted out our spot.

The best spot we had

We tilled up about a 40x 40 ‘ section

It’s more then enough for me

That’s what I’ve been using for years now

What makes you say it may have not been the best spot?

So, as things have been growing we realized there are a couple of sections that don’t grow real well and we realized we are right in between 4 giant walnut trees.

Is it because of shade or do walnut trees put off something?

Yes, it’s poisonous to any kind of plants that grow around it

can’t grow by the root, I think as the trees got bigger, the roots expanded in sections

We started to look for a new spot, the spot where we had the pigs last year, we are hoping would be a lot of nutrient rich soil in there, and we planted some rye as a cover crop so hopefully, it will be a good garden spot next year.

I love this, because so many people have talked about volunteering being essential to their success… Robin Kelson, Angel Garbarino, and Vicki Henderson, all listeners said they learned so much from working with others. 


How did you learn how to garden organically?

I did learn a little bit from the other gardeners there because it was a community plot there was maybe 20 plots available, so there were a lot of other gardeners so that was part of the fun

you weren’t alone

  • look at what was growing
  • how they set up trellises
  • what kind of watering system they have

the experience there

I’m a big research

read, research and then just go for it!

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

My style is to plant as much variety as possible, which may be overwhelming to some people. I would say I have at least 40 or 50 different things in my garden

  • 5 different peppers
  • tomatoes varieties
  • herbs



I have a patch of amaranth, red that is so beautiful! Taller then me and it just produces these purple burst of fluff! 

It’s a beautiful dark purple, it adds a lot to the visual aspect of the space!

peppers are doing really well, I’m also doing some 


  • dill
  • marigolds
  • tomatoes

So I haven’t had any horn worm problems.

Nice! I think that is why mike doesn’t have horn worm problems either he always plants lots of marigolds. Am I remembering right that amaranth makes a good cover crop? I think it was in my interview with Jes Pearce.

You could probably plant it as a cover crop. I just planted a little spot last year, I think, and then it came up again this year on it’s own. So I just left it and weeded it, but I have 6-8 big tall stalks, not a lot. I tried to harvest last year, but I think the birds go there. 

What do you do with amaranth? Is it a grain like quoina?

It’s a grain, most of the time. I’ll use it in baking breads or you can toast it in a salute pan.

Just one more question? I have never gotten it to grow, I have tried a few times now.


I started them inside, when I first started them, inside under a florescent bulb, they sprout just fine, I guess they transplant well, I just through them in the garden.

I’ve spent more time this year in the garden. I planted my first cover crop this year, buckwheat and it’s finally growing and about to harvest, or kill, or whatever you do with it! 

Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

So we have a whole bunch of manure that is from the pigs we want to spread

we kind of do it every year, but I’ve always been hesitant to add  a lot

We are going to do that this year and try to build the soil up

We have never done soil.


How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You … (And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains,)

Speaking of Jes Pearce. is I just took out John Jeavon’s book from the library and I thought how is it we have never bought this book, it has a great chart of soil test results or what grows best where. A lot of market farmer’s talk about that is just essential for production.

Farm on the Roof Tour Summer 2018 Anastasia Cole Plakias from Farm on the Roof also talked about their grad student talked about the importance of soil testing.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

Not everything always grows like it’s supposed

the dry hot weather

there are a lot of farmer’s in our area who are suffering crop production is really low

where we are at, we have pretty soil is sandy where we are at, we are limited to what we can grow. 

Corn doesn’t grow really well, but we do a lot of christmas trees

hay farmers

don’t think they are gonna get a crop, not enough water this year!

Things haven’t grown. It’s been unusually hot, we’ve had a couple of months of 80-90º which is very uncommon in Northern Michigan.

I’m gonna talk to Patti Armbrister, who is doing a lot of research with dry irrigation and how they are mitigating a lack of water and doing resilliencing in farm land, even one farmer growing 


is get something set up in my tiny garden this year


I visited a local CSA, is kind of my alternative to volunteering, just get to talk to other gardeners. This CSA is great!“`

land planted with vegetables

50some shares

they have a really cool irrigation system

soft flexible plastic hose

tried to find it online, but I wasn’t as successful as I thought, that is something I would like to do next year, because I would like to have that set up

I’ve spent so much time watering.


I also talked to Lee reich, who talked about using irrigation would save so much water is a great thing to do about saving our planet. And also Richard Wiswall talks about how tripling your water can help with your production.

Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links



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Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

I would say that probably maintaining the fence which is pretty much weeding. Weed whacking is my least favorite thing to do! That gets back to my goals, so I get some raised beds going.

less fence and weed maintenance

  • weeding
  • also
  • maintaining the fence

hardly ever weed whack of the fence

just fenced in the whole garden

I guess I am wondering what fence, around the garden or to keep the pigs out?

To keep the whole garden protected. Our garden is quite a ways from the house, we can’t see it

  • deer
  • rabbits

It sounds like a pretty big area, 40×40.

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?

My favorite activity i would say is planning the garden. I really enjoy just trying to figure out which plants grow well beside other plants and rotating my crops.

Reading about how to plant them and then designing things. 

I don’t have a lot of design aspect in my garden.

I have a teepee for my beans

plant stuff in small little sections and create visual shapes in the garden

I think that is my favorite part

planting! Putting those seeds in the ground and waiting to see them come up.

I don’t know if that is my least favorite because it takes forever! I think I like starts, transplanting plants, I got some black-eyed Susans and lavender that just put in and there was instant color. 

also, Mike and I created that journal, I’m much better about saying this is what we did do, not as much as what we should do. We put like 15 things on our list, and only completed maybe one of them. Last year, I wrote a list of accomplishments instead of creating new years resolutions.

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

So that was a stumper questions!

I couldn’t think of anything really specific

Some advice to say more general in farming in life

We learned to farm pigs from a friend of ours who had done it his whole life

He ‘s just lovable friendly, he’d give the shirt your back if you needed it, kind of guy!


his motto is if you treat them well, they’ll treat you well

That’s how I’ve always approached farming

  • applies to gardening
  • applies to life

treat your...