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:
The Nugget bine and Cascade hops bines have reached the top of the ropes. The Cascade hops plant overtook the Nugget and is now the bine height leader by a foot over the Nugget hops. The Magnum bines are still only 8 or 9 feet tall. I lowered the Cascade and Nugget bines 6 feet to allow the hop bines to continue to climb.
I mounted hose racks to the side of my garage to allow looping the hop bines off the ground and allow more vertical growth (see pictures). One thing I learned with this setup is the bines blow off of the hose racks in the wind we have had the last 2 days so I had to secure the rope to the hose hangers ( I used tie wraps/ zip ties – Next to duct tape, zip ties are best invention ever in my opinion.
I chose Cascade hops, Nugget hops and Magnum hops because they are disease resistant, high yielding and grow well in my climate (zone 4). Apparently the Magnum do not fair as well, they are behind the Nugget and Cascade hop plants by 6 – 7 feet (I still love them though). The season is not over, anything could happen yet. My experiment on how to grow hops with a pulley system seems to be working well so far.
The bines are sending out side shoots for hops and I can hardly wait. Because they are first year hops, I am not expecting much of a hop harvest this year, although they are exceeding my expectations from everything I have read on the subject and from my hop growing friends. I can’t wait till next year to see what they will do.
The soil innoculant I used “Alive Soil Activator” revived all of my wifes flowers (can’t be hurting my hops either). Like all flowers, they look great when you buy them but after a month or so the flowering fades. I used this unconventionally and just threw a couple of spoonfuls in a watering container, watered the plants and they all look 200% better! Even revived a plant I thought was dead – it is flowering like crazy now!
Anyway, there is my status report on how to grow hops (my version). There is a lot of good information on growing hops out there – find it, read it, absorb it and grow hops like crazy.
Hop bines – Humulus Lupulus (not hop vines) are taking off now. Growing at a rate of 3 to 6 inches a day. 7 days ago the Nugget hops were 7 feet tall – the Magnum hops were 5 feet tall and the Cascade hops were 6 feet tall.
1 week later Nugget hop bines are just over 10 feet, Magnum hop bines are 7 feet tall and the Cascade hop bines are 9 foot 6 inches. In 7 days the Nugget hops grew 3 feet (5 inches a day), Magnum hops grew 2 feet (over 3 inches a day) and the Cascade hops grew 3 foot six inches (6 inches a day)! This is the fun part of growing hops!
The vertical growth should continue at this pace or better and the bines should soon fill in with side shoots and hop cones! The hop flowers or hop cones are the end product we are after. Watching the hops bines grow is the fun part. I have not had to lower the bines yet (soon) as they reach the top of the rope/pulley of the hop rigging. I still need to get some hose hangers or similar contraption to loop the bines on to allow more vertical space for the hop bines to grow.
I mentioned on an ealier post that I spotted a posting on an interesting concept, a upward spiral. I don’t know if the bines would need to be constantly trained or if they would follow the spiral. I imagine there is a magic number of the angle of the rope where the bines would wrap around the rope without daily training. Too slow of a rise and the bine would attempt to grow straight up. I will experiment with this concept next year.
This years pulley rigged ropes with a slight angle is doing great. No sense in messing with perfection. The Nugget bines are within 2 feet of reaching the top so I better start shopping for