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The Plant Hunter

Hops 101

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If you're new to growing hops like we are - don't fret! We've teamed up with Immaculate Brewery to provide you with everything you need to know, and maybe some things you don't, for successfully growing hops at home...

below: The Sill - The Hops Starter Gift Set (shop now

What do I do when it arrives?
Upon arrival, unwrap the shrink-wrap around your hops plant to prepare it for planting. Select a location outside that fits the following requirements: full sun, access to water for irrigation, good air flow, and healthy soil. The soil should ideally have a pH balance between 6 and 7, and a good level of organic matter, which can be mixed in prior to planting or added with a cover crop. Although not recommended - if you prefer to plant your hops in an outdoor container, rather than into the ground, make sure to choose one that is at least 5 gallons and drill holes in the bottom for drainage. IB cautions, "Even then, I'd expect the plant to be root bound by the end of the year. You'll want to transport to an even bigger container after that... Hops need room to stretch their legs." They are not conducive to container gardening. 

How do I plant my hops plant?
Once you’ve chosen a location, plant your hops plant as quickly and efficiently as possible into the ground, making sure the root system is completely covered. IB says, "You should see it start to grow immediately after transplant shock wears off, which shouldn't be more than a few days. You'll want to plant the hop crown so that the ground level stays about the same." Once planted - water immediately.

Help! I am unable to plant my hops right away.
You can store your hops plant for up to 2 weeks in a cool dark spot, preferably with a temperature of under 42 degrees fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can pot your hops plant in a 1-2 gallon container until you are able to plant it in the ground outside. Keep the potted hops plant well-watered. Make sure to plant your hops plant into the ground outside no later than early fall. 

Help! I ordered multiple hops plants.
Just make sure to plant each hops plant at least 36-40 inches away from each other. Ample spacing makes sure you’ll have enough space to weed between plants and cultivate later on.

How much water do my plants need once planted?
Your new hops plant will need at least an inch of rain water per week during the first growing season.

How much can I expect my plants to grow once planted?
Your plant should grow into a full-grown hops plant in about a year’s time. It should bear cones as well.

Will I need a trellis?
Yes - your plant will need something to grow up. And hops grow quite vigorously so it’s never too soon to get a trellis or put together a makeshift one. If you're planning to DIY your trellis - Immaculate Brewery recommends using coir, jute, or hemp twine as a training string instead of synthetic cords. "Natural fibers are easier for the bine to grab onto," IB explains. Additionally, they make any bine 'leftovers' recycling and compost-friendly. 

Will I need to weed?
Yes! Hops do not compete well with weeds. Use a weed killer or cover crop to clear weeds and grasses prior to planting.

Will I need to cover my hops plants?
Nope. “Hops need a period of cold dormancy to thrive, so unless you live in a frozen tundra or a meat locker… you’ll be fine,” says Immaculate Brewery. The rule of thumb? If temperatures outside are above -20 degrees F - your hops plants will be fine. 

When do I harvest my cones? 
Immaculate Brewery recommends using this guide by UMV that explains when hops are really ready to harvest and how to calculate it. They even offer an online calculator to help. "I pick a few sacrificial cones, weigh them, microwave on low or toast in the oven on low, and reweigh them," IB explains. Going through this process for the first few harvests will give you an idea of what your hops look like when they're ready - so you can eventually graduate to what IB calls "the folksy squeeze method" - i.e. waiting for the cones to feel papery to the touch, yet spring back when squeezed. The lupulin glands will also go from translucent yellow to opaque yellow, and the cone might start to open up a tiny bit on the bine. All signs your cones are ready for harvest. 

What do I do with my harvested cones? 
Once you separate the cones from the bines, you'll want to dry them out. IB recommends spreading the cones out on a window screen and position a small fan to blow air on them. "Once you have them down to about 8% moisture, you'll want to vacuum seal them. (If you don't have a vacuum sealer - use a freezer bag and make sure to squeeze as much air out as possible.) Store in the freezer until you're reading to use them," says IB. They should keep anywhere from 6 months to a year. 

Once I've harvested the cones - what do I do with the bine? 
"Once the cones are gone, the bine will continue to put any energy it makes from photosynthesis into root development. This is especially beneficial in your first year or two of growing hops," Immaculate Brewery points out. A strong root system makes for a better harvest. If you've opted to plant your hops in containers instead of directly in the ground, you'll need to do light crown maintenance (not after the first year, but after the 2nd and following years). You can find more about that on Immaculate Brewery's site here. Crown maintenance can also be beneficial for plants potted directly in the ground, but not crucial. 

 

Immaculate Brewery - Growing Hops At Home* A HUGE thank you goes out to Immaculate Brewery for all their help on composing the information above. Their "Growing Hops At Home" and "Fall Hops Maintenance" articles should be mandatory reads for any hops newbie. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook

 

 

     

 

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Union Square Flower Market 1900s

Posted by The Sill on

Photography of Union Square's Flower Market during the very early 1900s from the Library of Congress proves that NYC has always been an urban beauty and that its occupants will always crave some greenery.

 

 (Photography courtesy of The Library of Congress Archive) 

 

 

June 02, 2015 by The Sill

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Memorial Day Inspiration

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With Memorial Day Weekend fast approaching - we thought we'd pull together some red, white, and blue inspiration to inspire you to get outside and enjoy the long weekend with friends and family! 

5 tips for having a memorable Memorial Day 

1. Embrace the color-scheme. Wear your white, red, & blue proudly! (We've been looking for a good reason to pick up this Madewell tunic.) 
2. Cook classics. When deciding what to serve, stick with the summer classics - think hotdogs and hamburgers, sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, and a cold pesto pasta salad. For a desert, a classic vanilla cake pilled with berries. (Steal this Food52 recipe for Black Bean & Corn burgers. Yum.) 
3. Decorate! String starry paper garlands, hang holiday lights, and pot plants in red, white, and blue planters. (We love these easy DIY String Lights.) 
4. Say thanks. If you're not hosting, make sure not to show up empty-handed. A potted plant or bottle of wine will do the trick. Don't have time to grab something? Send a gracious thank-you note the following week. (Unlike cut flowers, a stylish potted plant is sure to outlast your weekend hangover.) 
5. Remember. Although Memorial Day Weekend is a celebration, it is also a time to remember and honor the people who died while serving in our country's armed forces. (Fly our flag, thank a veteran, send a care package, or support a solider.) 

 


 

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Brown Thumb? Meet the Sansevieria

Posted by The Sill on

We receive a handful of calls and emails a week asking what we'd recommend for the houseplant-weary. Our answer? A Sansevieria - more commonly known as the snake plant. One of our favorite houseplants, the snake plant is not only a striking, sculptural addition to any room - it also improves indoor air quality, produces oxygen, and is incredibly easy to take of. We swear. 

Name: Sanseivieria
Common Names: Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tongue
Description: A no-fussplantwith thin upright leaves that resemble the skin of a reptile
Care: Low-maintenance
Origin: Western Africa
Light: Bright to light, indirect light
Water: About 1x every 2 to 3 weeks (allow soil to dry out completely between waterings)
Temperature & Humidity: Average; can be used as an ornamental plant outdoors in warmer climates and indoors in cooler climates 
Dislikes: Over-watering, cold temperatures and drafts
Benefits: Purifies indoor air (absorbs toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene); converts carbon dioxide into oxygen; numerous variegations to choose from 

* TOP 5 REASONS WE LOVE THE SNAKE PLANT * 

  1. Its adaptations for surviving drought means it is extremely low-maintanece! Forget to water it? No problem - next time. 
  2. It has one of the highest conversion rates of carbon dioxide to oxygen. Did we mention it absorbs toxins from indoor air, too? (more Air-Purifying Plants
  3. It tolerates low and even artificial light - making it a great choice for first-floor apartments and office cubicles. 
  4. It comes in a vast variety of visually appealing variegations. 
  5. It has an extremely low toxicity level, making it less harmful to your fury friends than other common houseplants. (more Pet-Friendly Plants

Looking for a snake plant to call your own? See our AugustOlmsted, and, the recently launched, Case Study Cylinder (currently NYC delivery only) - or visit us at The Sill Shop at 84 Hester Street! 

 

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Tastemakers: Igor Josifovic & Judith de Graaff

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We're really thrilled to introduce you to our two featured guests in this newest installment of our Tastemakers series. Meet Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff - bloggers and friends, whose mutual passion for plants has resulted in their ingenious 'Urban Jungle Bloggers' project. To say we're fans would be an understatement. We urge you to follow, like, bookmark - and be inspired to bring the outdoors in… 

First up is Igor Josifovic, a Blogger (see Happy Interior Blog) & Social Media Manager, who splits his time between Munich, Germany and Paris, France. 

Can you share with us a little background about yourself - and your love of houseplants? 

I am a traveling sould, a digital nomad, an interior design lover and a plant person. My childhood had been accompanied by many plants in my parents' home and this passion has been planted into my soul as well. Living with plants is essential for me as I enjoy having living plants around me. Not only do they bring a home to life, but they also ground me. My life is pretty busy and I like to say that I have many hats on as a blogger, social media manager, son, friend, partner. My worklife is clocked by the fast-paced digital lifestyle of social networks and caring for plants is the sheer opposite. It requires time and patience. It reminds me that there is more to our life than the beeping iPhone and the ongoing email influx in my inbox. And to make it all perfect, my houseplants really match my lifestyle and make my living environment a healthier and better place. 

Can you share with us a little about the Urban Jungle Bloggers movement?

Urban Jungle Bloggers is a mutual project between Judith and me that was born out of our passion for plants in 2013. What started as a simple blog series on our blogs has quickly turned into a living, growing, and friendly green community uniting bloggers from New Zealand, over Europe to the United States. Every month we pick a green topic and share it with our community and everyone interprets the topic in its own way on their blogs and social media (learn how to get involved here). We then share the results on our Urban Jungle Bloggers platforms and bring people with the same passion and love for plants together. 

What's a secret skill you have?

I speak Greek, I can write shorthand, and I love to make people smile.

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

A few years ago I was taken to a trip in a car ending up on an airport and disembarking in Dublin, Ireland. Just like that. As a present. How cool is that?

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

I'd run around cause I'd want to save everything. Most probably I would end up running out of the space with my iPhone in the hand. 

What's on your to-do list today?

Buying a new sweater, writing a blog post for Happy Interior Blog and potting a plant in my new handmade planter that I received from a potter in Vietnam.

What is your favorite plant and why?

Oh my, I have so many favorites. I do love my little Pilea Peperomioides that I received by snail mail from a befriended blogger in Sweden. But I am constantly charmed by my Oxalis triangularis that I bought in Paris a few months ago. She is such a charmer fluttering on my windowsill like many purple butterflies.

Do you have a green thumb?

I am not sure there is such a thing. Especially nowadays when all information required is available online. You can simply google your plant, check out communities like the Urban Jungle Bloggers or get professional advice on sites like The Sill - get to know your plant and the color of your thumb becomes irrelevant. 

Any plant care tips you can share?

Above all pick a plant or plants that suit your lifestyle. You are out and about a lot? Choose low-maintenance plants that require the least attention from you. The better you match your plant choice with your lifestyle, the more fun it will be to see it grow and thrive.

What tops your houseplant wish list?

I am looking for some colourful succulents on longer stems like the sedum rubrotinctum or the Aeonium cyclops. Because plants are not only green, right? 

Now meet Judith de Graaff, the second half of UJB, and a freelance graphic designer who resides near Paris, France. 

Can you share with us a little background about yourself, your love of houseplants, and the Urban Jungle Bloggers movement?

Hi! My name is Judith and I’m a Dutch graphic designer living in France. I grew up surrounded by plants in a typical 70s/80s kind of way: with suspended plant shelves in front of the windows and handmade ceramics. As a teenager I worked at a local garden center, but it wasn’t until I visited the Jardin Exotique in Monaco about 15 years ago that I realised I loved plants. I fell in love with the different shades of green, as well as the very graphic shapes of the succulents, the intriguing shapes of the cacti and the tropical vibe of the palm trees. I wanted that at home too and now live in a house where I have an entire indoor garden dedicated to growing all kinds of plants.
When Igor and I met a few years ago in Paris we started talking about the things we liked and realized we both REALLY loved plants. As we’re also both bloggers, we decided to start a blog series by showing our own urban jungles on our blogs. The response was immediate, so many other bloggers asked if they could join the green movement, too - and slowly but surely our small series turned into a green community with a monthly topic, hundreds of blogging members, and a popular hashtag (#urbanjunglebloggers). We feel so honored that Urban Jungle Bloggers is thriving and growing every day! 

What's a secret skill you have? 

I know a lot about keeping yourself warm in an unheated home. I have about 7 years - winters - of experience. Booze and activity, also combined, are some of the key ingredients.

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

A blue-greyish shell my husband once picked up at the beach, it fits like a ring. Very random, but very pretty. 

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

After people and cats - I’d grab my handbag with passport, phone and camera. If there was more time I’d also take my photo albums, computer, suitcase with worthless treasures, and my drawers with stationary knickknacks. 

What's on your to-do list today? 

Pack my suitcase for a week in the South West of France, on the Atlantic coast.

What is your favorite plant and why?

Impossible to choose just one, but I really like my giant agaves that I grew from cuttings many years ago. I like big plants and they have such a nice blueish color. I also love my different paddle leaf cacti because they grow in impossible directions to keep their balance. And another favorite are the aloë vera plants from which I use the gel to calm my skin after skin burns. 

Do you have a green thumb? 

I don’t really believe in having a green or black thumb. I believe in attention and caring for plants. And in trial & error. I’ve killed many many plants by overwatering, not watering enough, wrong kind of soil/light/temperature but I learned from the experiences. And by now, I know most of the plants I own and did my homework. And because the largest part are succulents, cacti and palm trees, they are very forgiving, which makes it fairly easy to take care of them.

Any plant care tips you can share?

Be particularly careful with cactus glochids, the tiny hairy spines of certain kinds of cacti. I once picked up a small paddle with my bare hands - as I do that all the time with regular cacti - but the tiny barbed tips that stuck in my skin, hurt for weeks, and were almost impossible to remove. I learned my lesson and now wrap these cacti in paper if I want to repot them.

What tops your houseplant wish list?

I would love a Sarracenia and some other carnivorous plants. I secretly hope my cats won’t eat them, & if so: that the plants bite back ;) 

(All photography courtesy of Igor & Judith. Learn more about Urban Jungle Bloggers here!) 

 

 

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