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The Plant Hunter

Tastemakers: Sarah Goldschadt

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The third installment of our new Tastemakers series shines the spotlight on local maker Sarah Goldschadt, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Sarah is a freelance art director and maker, who captured our hearts with her adorable, handmade knit and crochet 'carefree cacti' - no sunlight or water required!

Can you share a little bit about sah-rah.com and carefree cacti?

Sah-rah is a phonetic spelling and Americanized way of saying my name in Danish (normally it's pronounced with a guttural 'R' sound). Over the years it became my online identity to share my design and crafts. I was born in Copenhagen - and spent all my childhood summers there, which strongly influenced my simple, modern aesthetic. Then growing up in Minnesota, I was surrounded by a family of makers.

Currently, I work as a freelance graphic designer for various print and digital magazines - and because most of my day involves sitting in front of a computer, it’s nice to come home and make something with my hands. I started making carefree cacti a few years ago and have slowly become more obsessed with cacti ever since. Since I know how to knit, crochet, and sew, I experimented with different ways of making them until I felt comfortable selling them at local markets and on Etsy. I am currently making limited editions from recycled wool garments and am starting to create a line to offer as wholesale. 

What's a secret skill you have? 

I’m pretty decent at badminton. I joined my high school team my senior year and we placed first in our conference! 

What's the best present you've given or received? 

Last year I hand-sewed my niece a 3-D alphabet from felt and made objects coordinating with each letter. I photographed everything and designed and printed a book. At 18 months old she’s a little too young to enjoy it now, but I hope she'll enjoy it when she gets older.

If your space was on fire, what's the first thing you'd grab to save? 

My husband’s dog, Miso. She’s the cutest! 

What's on your to-do list today? 

Making 20 carefree cacti for a bride who wants to use them as centerpieces at her wedding.

Do you have a green thumb? 

My husband and I pretend to. We’re always on the search for fun planters and have run out of room on our window sills. 

Any plant care tips you can share? 

Don't be afraid to propagate succulents. 

What tops your houseplant wish list? 

A super-tall cacti. Maybe I just need to make one... : ) 

  

(Sarah's website, Instagram, and Etsy shop.) 

    

p.s. follow us on Instagram to learn how to enter to win a carefree cacti!

  

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Fiddle Fever: Meet The Fiddle Leaf Fig

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THE PLANT 

The Fiddle Leaf Fig, or Ficus lyrata, is a species of fig tree native to western Africa that is most at home in lowland tropical rain forests. In its native habitat, it can grow over 40 feet tall and produce green figs. However, indoor fiddles are significantly smaller, grow slower, and do not produce fruit.

The leaves of a Fiddle Leaf Fig can vary in shape, but are often broad, and leathery in texture, with prominent veins and a vibrant green hue. Their silhouette usually resembles that of a fiddle - hence the name.

THE MOVEMENT

Whether you're a plant lover or not - chances are, you've been seeing fiddles everywhere recently. Fiddle fever seems to coincide with the popularity of online social platforms, like Pinterest and Tumblr, and the rise of home and design blogging. Our hunch is the trend was sparked aspirational image sharing.

A little background: Pinterest soft-launched in 2010 or 2011, but it really didn’t take off till 2012. Its peak as a trending search on Google was in February of 2012. This coincides with the sudden appearance of fiddles, and a handful of other popular plants like miniature succulents and odd-looking cacti, on just about every design-focused blog.

From 2012 to 2013, designers, bloggers, DIY-ers…everyone had fiddle fever. Some tastemakers even called it that! Since then, the fiddle has only become more and more popular - and more accessible, which has directly contributed to the growth of its popularity even more so. For example, IKEA has been selling them since around 2010, but they saw an influx of fiddles sales within the past two years. 

THE IMAGES

It is the aspirational images, prior to 2012, of stunning 6 foot fiddles in gorgeous homes in the glossy pages of magazines like ELLE Decor, that made their way to Pinterest and consequently jumped started the fiddle movement.

In particular – the dramatic fiddle in the living room of Laurie and Adam Herz’s Hollywood Hills home by interior decorator was Peter Dunham in Elle Décor; the two statuesque fiddles flanking the paintings in Claiborne Swanson Frank’s Manhattan apartment’s dining room, also in Elle Décor; a large, wild fiddle in front of the fireplace in Anna Burke’s West Village apartment in Lonny Magazine; and the matching large fiddles in bright orange planters in Jonathan Adler’s dining area in his NY apartment in Elle Décor France.

And thanks to technology, those images really started to circulate - more so than print circulation - and bloggers started to share these aspirational images, but also how accessible these plants are, and how easy they are to care for. Fiddles now make regular appearances in popular home décor catalogs (IKEA, West Elm, Jonathan Adler), blogs (Door Sixteen, Apartment Therapy, DesignLoveFest, Gardenista), and magazines (Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Lonny, Dwell)…just to name a few! 

THE CARE

If you're lucky enough to have the space and the sunlight, then a fiddle makes for a striking houseplant. It is one of the easier ficus plants to care for - making it an excellent choice, even for beginners. Make sure to place it in a spot that receives bright, indirect light and the warmth of the sun.. Usually by a south or west facing window.

Be aware that fiddles can be finicky when placed in a new environment. When stressed, their leaves tend to brown and drop off. Make sure to give it time to acclimate to its new home before sounding the alarm. Keep it far away from drafts or heat sources, as it likes its environment to stay consistent in temperature and humidity. And note, it can be toxic if ingested (it probably won't kill your furry friend, but it will irritate their stomach and cause them to throw up - at which point, they'll then leave it alone). 

COMMON TROUBLESHOOTING  

  • Leaf crinkling, loss, and rot ---> Overwatered 
  • Surface burns, leaf loss ---> Extreme heat or direct sun 
  • Leaves overly soft and flexible ---> Under-watered 
  • Brown disc-shaped spots under leaves ---> Scale 

 

Questions? Tweet us at @TheSill. Looking for a fiddle of your own? Find one here, or at The Sill Shop at 84 Hester Street! 

 

  

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The Shamrock & Saint Patrick's Day

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The image of a bright green shamrock is now almost synonymous with Saint Patrick's Day. According to legend, St. Patrick, Ireland's patron saint, used the shamrock in the 5th century to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity when he introduced the religion of Christianity to Ireland.

The original Irish shamrock is said to have been a white clover - the Trifolium repens, a common lawn weed native to Ireland. You might have see these little guys in your backyard - as they have since been introduced worldwide as a pasture crop. 

  

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Plant Care: Spring Repotting

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Early Spring, before the start of the growth season, is the best time to repot your houseplants. Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers can call the same pot home for years. 

Not sure if your plant needs a repot? Here's some signs to look for: 

  • The roots are growing through the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter 
  • The roots are pushing the plant up, out of the planter 
  • The plant is growing slower than normal 
  • The plant is extremely top heavy, and falls over easily 
  • The plant dries out more quickly than usual, requiring more frequent waterings 
  • There is noticeable salt & mineral build up on the plant or planter 

A common misconception, repotting does not necessarily mean changing a plant's planter, but rather - changing its soil or potting mix. Fresh soil means new nutrients. This is great news if you love your current planter, but if you're looking to purchase a new one that's fine, too! If you are changing planters, try to keep the size no more than 3" larger in diameter for tabletop planters, and no more than 6" larger in diameter for floor planters. Remember you do not what a small plant drowning in a sea of soil in an oversized planter. A poor plant/planter match can lead to overwatering, which is the easiest way to kill a plant. 

Repotting Toolbox 

  • Newspaper (for easy clean up) 
  • Fresh potting soil 
  • A watering can, spray bottle, or makeshift water bottle 
  • Scissors or pruners 
  • Your houseplant, of course 
  • A planter 

Step By Step: Repotting 101 

  1. Water your plant thoroughly the day or two before you plant to repot 
  2. Pre-moisten the new potting soil if it feels dry 
  3. Turn your plant upside down, hold it gently by the stems, and tap the bottom of its current container until the plant slides out (you can give it a bit of help with a couple gentle tugs on the stems) 
  4. With your hands, gently loosen the roots, and prune any that are dead or extra long 
  5. If your plant is root bound - footings growing in tight circles around the base of the plant - unbind them as best you can and give them a little trim 
  6. Remove about 1/3 of the old potting soil 
  7. Pour a layer of fresh, pre-moistened soil into the planter 
  8. Set plant on top of the fresh layer of soil in the planter, making sure it's centered
  9. Add soil around the plant until it is secure (sitting upright) - be sure not to pack too much soil into the planter, you want the roots to breath 
  10. Even out the potting soil on top, water well, and let drain 

*Remember to keep a newly potted plant out of bright, direct sun for about a week, as it acclimates to its new environment. Don't be too concerned if you see some signs of stress during this period, too. 

Questions? Don't be shy - shoot us an email, or tweet us at @TheSill. Still need help? Stop by The Sill Shop - and we'll repot your plant for you! Starting at $10. 

 

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Plant Care: Spring Break Edition

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Whether it's a long weekend away or a month abroad, we're sharing our top four tips for prepping your plants before your spring break departure.

Photography by Sidney Bensimon

1. Watering: Maintain Moisture

- If you'll be away for a week or less, a good soil-soaking before you leave should be sufficient. While you shouldn't regularly overwater your plants, this is an exception to the rule. Make sure to let your potted plant drain completely before you're on your way - so the soil is soaked but your plants aren't sitting directly in a saucer of water. Dump out any excess water from the saucer, which could attract pests while you're gone.

- If you'll be away for more than a week, there are a couple ways you cam prepare your plant - try one of the tricks below or a combination, depending on the length of your absence and the variety of plant. First give your plant a good soaking, then… 

  • Add mulch, rocks, or wood chips directly on top of your plant's soil to help hold-in moisture. We've heard damp newspaper can also do the trick. 
  • Cover the top of your plant down to the lip of the planter with a clear plastic bag, creating a makeshift greenhouse. Cut a couple slits in the plastic to allow for air circulation. Use birch sticks to hold the bag up and way from the foliage. Make sure not to cover the planter's drainage holes - or let the bag rest against the foliage. 
  • Line a shallow tray with small rocks - and fill the tray with water almost to the top of the rocks but not quite. You don't want the base of your planter to be sitting directly in water, but instead you want it to rest on top the rocks. 
  • Transport your plants to your bathroom, provided you have a window, or another small room, and group them together. The smaller the room - the easier it is to maintain humidity. No closets though, unless you have a spectacular walk-in with a window! 

2. Environment: Tweak Temperature

- The more sun your plant receives, the more thirsty it will be. Most houseplants are likely to wilt if placed in direct sunlight for an extended period of time - especially if there's a lack of water. Because you won't be around to keep a close eye on them, move your plants that are usually kept on a sunny sill to the center of the room, or a spot lit by indirect sunlight, while you're away. This helps to keep the soil from drying out and the leaves from burning. Once you return, you can move your plants back to their usual spot. 

3. Health: Please Prune

- Before you leave, make sure to prune off any dead or dying foliage, which can steal nutrients from healthy stems and leaves, and attract pest while you're away. Depending on the houseplant, you can also trim off any buds or flowers, which require more water to stay plump and healthy. 

4. Growth: Forgo Fertilizer

- If you use fertilizer regularly, hold off until you return from your trip. You want your plants to grow as slowly as possible while you're gone. FYI, we're not big on fertilizer - especially during the winter when plants are pretty dormant. 

P.S. Remember that the tips above do not apply to your drought-tolerate and sun-loving cacti and succulents. So if you are an avid traveler, those are the plants for you! Provided you have the sunlight they require. 

Whatever preparation you decide to do, give yourself a big pat on the back when you return to a healthy and happy houseplant. It missed you, too. Have a tip you'd like to share? Comment below or tweet us at @TheSill

 

 

 

March 16, 2015 by The Sill

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