Archive for July, 2009
Hops – Humulus Lupulus – in July (7/20/2009) status report. It has been a couple of weeks since my last growing hops post. All three hop plants have topped their ropes. The Magnum hops finally made it to the top – about 15 feet tall. The Cascade hops and Nugget hop bines have reached the top of their hop trellis rigging twice and I have looped them around hose hangers and pulled back slack to give them more vertical space for the hop vines to grow.
I have decided to let them top out and and leave it at that because the looped portion of the hops bines do not seem to be putting out lateral shoots (for hop flowers / hop cones) like the un-looped portion of the hop bines are. They still may produce side shoots, but that is one thing learned from this hop experiment so far. Next year I am leaning towards a spiral approach, the point being giving them as much vertical growth possible with a limited vertical space (Although many folks grow them even shorter). I am trying to maximize hop cone production with limited vertical resources (without freaking out my neighbors with hop skyscraper towers).
Who knows, I may come up with a commercial approach to maximized hops production that will be financially and labor-wise feasible. Presently I am simply looking to maximize hops production for myself and other homebrewers. To grow hops, I have held true to keeping it organic. They seem to be growing very nicely for first year hops started from hop rhizomes only 3 months ago.
The Magnum hops plant is currently 15 feet tall. The structure of this hop bine is smaller leaves, more compact – but denser foliage. The Cascade hops bine is at about 23 feet tall with the topped out bine now making it’s way back toward the ground. The Nugget hops bine is about 21 – 22 feet tall (with the length of the looped bine on the hose hanger – see previous posts). The Cascade hops lateral shoots are impressive at 3 to 4 feet in length. A couple of the side shoots have wrapped around the the lowering rope and are now spirally up that rope! The Nugget hop bines are starting to send out some impressive lateral hop shoots as well. Just hoping these lateral hops shoots will fill in with lots of hop cones. Time will tell.
The hops I am growing will be used for a relaxing hop tea, combined with other calming and relaxing herbs like chamomile, lavender, kava kava and others to make sleep aids and de-stress formulas. And of course the main function of the hops will be for making awesome beers and ales. Of the beer hops, I have 2 bittering hops (Nugget and Magnum) and the Cascade hops are for aroma hops in the beer/ale making process.
Hop plants have hit the top of the ropes again – 12 feet, bines are looped 6 feet around hose hangers (Cascades and Nugget hop plants total 18 feet tall with the loop – Magnum bines are a little over 10 feet tall). I went to drop the hop bines another 6 feet and loop them around the hose hangers I mounted last week – Murphy (Murpy’s law – anything that can go wrong, will) reared his ugly friggen head. Turns out when I looped the ropes/bines, the non-dominant bine (trailing the dominant bine by 6 feet) did not make the loop. This caused the shorter bine to rejoin the rope at the top of the hose rack, making it difficult to loop the ropes and bines without getting them tangled when the shorter bines rejoin the top rope during there climb.
While the taller bine on each rope (I have 2 bines per rope) is topped out, the shorter bine on the rope will not be joined with the rope at the top of the hose rack. Something learned from this setup – issues with more than one bine per rope. Not a show stopper but an inconvenience trying to accommodate both bines on each rope. It will still function in that I will not need a ladder to lower the hop vines at harvest time.
The hops plants (at least the Cascade and Nugget hops) grew 5 feet in the last week. The Magnum hops are a little over 10 feet tall at this point – grew about a foot or two. The Magnum has more and denser vegetation than the other two. It appears to be a tie again between the Cascade hops plant and the Nugget hop plant at 18 feet in length.
While all three hop plants are sending out lateral shoots, the Cascade side shoots are much longer – 18 inches to 2 feet in length. Should start seeing hop cones soon. Hopefully the bines will fill out much more than they are now.
I may have to modify the hop trellis next year to accommodate 1 bine per rope (mount more ropes) or come up with some new ideas. Anyway I am happy with the first year hops growth. Hoping for a decent harvest despite this being the first year. Growing hops next year from established hop rhizomes / root stock should faster yet!
I finally stripped the bottom of the bines of leaves and side shoots (lateral shoots). I did not strip the hop bines the recommended 4 feet from the ground. I went around 2 feet (can’t tell me a damn thing – always been a bit of a rebel). You can see this on the bottom of the Magnum hop bine picture. The purpose of removing the lower foliage is to allow airflow to prevent mildew (especially powdery mildew) and possibly deter some pests that may come from the ground – we’ll see.
There’s this weeks status on the hops plants. I am also running out of rope, maybe 5 feet left to lower the bines for a total length of 23 feet – nothing to complain about though, proud of these hop plants!
Update – I found an online vendor for hop plants – 30 varieties! Check them out here: