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Introduction, Redux. Plus some indoor gardening.

Recently, I transfered my domain over to Wix, and lost ALL my content that was on Wordpress. The only backup I have is on the WP app on my phone, and it has been slow going trying to piece those back together with archived photos. I'm making lemons from lemonade and considering this an opportunity for a fresh start! Today I was doing some back end Wix-ing and realized that I haven't introduced myself on this new site. If you're new here, hi! I'm Beth, and my husband, Francis, and I met back in 2010 while I was writing a blog called Craves, Caves, & Graves. He invited himself on an excursion to Bonne Terre Mine, and the rest is history. We kept that blog going until about 2014, when I quit my corporate job expecting to give the site a makeover and focus on writing, but some other life stuff got in the way. Too much house, small child, pandemic, etc. In 2020 we downsized so we could travel more and then, *sad trombone* pandemic! This year is looking up, though! We've been traveling quite a bit already, and now that Lil is 6 we want to introduce her to some of the unusual places we have found on the road, as well as some places we didn't get to back then. We always planned to homeschool, even before she was born, so we could keep exploring and expose her to all kinds of people outside our own community.

The name of this blog is inspired by the Pepper's Ghost illusion, which encompasses everything from a DIY funhouse to Disney's Haunted Mansion, the ghost pepper kit I got from ThinkGeek a million years ago that set us on the path of home gardening, and the "ghost tales" as a nod to CC&G days, when we loved a good ghost tour or cemetery tour. I'd like to incorporate some of that spookiness here, but am currently hindered by a 6 year old flower child who doesn't share my 90s goth sensibilities.

Current events being what they are, I thought you might want to see some of our indoor gardening. We spent February rotating our pantry, and when I finally went to Costco this week, I had some major sticker shock! We are going to have to be a LOT more intentional about our garden this year, not just growing tomatoes, pickling cucumbers, and hot peppers. (I will say, though, that Sungold tomatoes and Lesya peppers were a staple of last year's garden, and we froze enough batches of tomato & pepper soup to last us through February!) One step we are taking to make sure we have more fresh produce year-round, and as a backup against major weather events, is to increase our indoor gardening.

This winter, I moved our Garden Tower 2 indoors. This system uses soil and is meant to have worm composting, but it has been a CHALLENGE to get worms in the winter. I gave up after 3 orders of dead worms, but Francis just told me last night that he discovered a bounty of red wigglers in our outdoor compost, so that problem has finally been solved. In the meantime I went ahead and started a few things like lettuce, broccoli, and herbs. It's looking a little thin still because we've been dickering over light requirements, but I think we are finally on the path to a productive indoor tower garden. Our DIY light rig is 3 full spectrum LED grow lights lashed to bamboo we harvested from my in-laws yard, plus another on top.

Behind the Garden Tower, you can see our hydroponic strawberries. We just started this one about a month ago. I highly recommend Hirts Garden Store on Amazon for winter shipping of strawberries! Most other sites won't ship until spring. This is the second time we have ordered from them, and they are 10x healthier than the last strawberries we purchased from Gurneys. The only reason we had to order again is that we initially tried these in our aquaponics system, but the nutrients strawberries need aren't great for the fish. We're just little hobbyists and not looking to solve the mysteries of aquaponic berries, so we decided to start over in the hydro. This is exactly what it looks like, a Rubbermaid tote with holes cut out of the lid. What looks like soil is actually coir. Here's a video tutorial on how this is accomplished!

And finally for today, here's our underused Aquasprouts grow, which I'm always intending to learn more about. We bought this when Lil was small and Francis did most of the hydro/aquaponics research while I was preoccupied by baby stuff. We've never REALLY gotten this system 100% balanced, and it seems like there is always something that needs attention. Like this basil that has burned tips right now - I know why, but it's a long story for a short blog. Now that I'm quitting my phone, maybe we'll finally make the aquaponics tank part of our homeschool lessons. So that's a little intro to us and SOME of our indoor gardening! There's a lot more going on here, but I'll save it for another day. If you want to hear more about any of these techniques, let us know in the comments!

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