A hop garden is mesmerizing to watch grow. Each day there is new growth and never a boring watch. You will find yourself checking them every day, it is that addicting. Although these hops bines have topped out their trellises, they are now spreading lateral shoots out from the hop bines and growing wider. I call these guys the 3 amigos – Nugget, Magnum and Cascade.
These hop plants are also starting to flower. It starts with the hop burrs or florets. The burrs or florets are comprised of spiny looking styles. This is when the female hop flowers are receptive to hops pollen. As the hop flower matures the styles will fall off.
The flowers fill in with petals and lupulin glands becoming hop cones. They look like green pine cones. Some hops are round and some hop cones are long depending on the hop variety. Hop Cones are the harvest we are after (unless grown for shade / cover). You can expect from 1/2 to 2 pounds of dried hops per plant (after a couple of years). First year hops expend a lot of energy on establishing the crown or root system.
As you can see here, hops like to go high. The Magnum hop bine is 15 feet tall. The cascade and Nugget bines are over 20 feet tall. You can’t see it in the above photo but there are hop bines looped around hose hangers (an experiment in bine height with limited vertical real estate – see some other posts on this blog and you will see it).
Start planning your hop garden now for next year. Select a site, work the soil – dig at least a foot down and 2 feet in diameter. Amend the soil with compost and other organic material – grass, leaves… make sure it is mostly soil and organic material is well mixed with the soil. Figure how you will rig the hop bines (to a pole, a deck, up the side of a building… you have til next spring to actually worry about it). Start reading up on growing hops and you will be well on your way to a successful hop garden.