Hop cones are forming from the hop burrs nicely. It looks like it will be a staggered hop harvest which is ok by me. The Cascade hops are the most mature and abundant followed by the Magnum and the Nugget hops are still burrs.
From spiney hop burrs to hop cones, this is what it is all about. These hops are loving the sunshine and thriving. I can’t wait to see what they will do next year!
I am definately going to use a different hop trellis system next year. The hop bines are not producing lateral shoots and cones where they are wrapped around the hose hangers. It was worth a try but not producing any additional hops cones.
I will be doing more research this fall and winter for hop rigging / hop trellis ideas. Trying to figure out an easy way to spiral the ropes and provide additional hops bine length for my limited vertical area I have along side of my garage.
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.
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.