Archive for June, 2009
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
First year hops update. It has been 2 months since I planted the hop rhizomes. I figured it is time for an update (and a reason to visit the hop growing blog). When they were first growing, the Nugget and Magnum hops were significantly ahead of the Cascade hops (by about 50% in height). At the 2 month marker, the Nugget hops are 7 feet tall, the Magnum hops are 5 feet tall and the cascade hops passed the Magnum and is at 6 feet tall.
The Nugget hops are the tallest hop bines at this point in time (2 months). The Nugget bines do receive just a little bit more direct sunlight so I don’t consider this a fair race to the top. I have 2 bines sharing this rope and they are perfectly spaced and growing as a double helix (as are the other 2 hop plants).
My neighbor says he thinks the hops are cool. I was a bit worried about using the white rope as it sticks out like a sore thumb against my brown garage. White was not my first choice in color, I was actually looking for green but white was all they had. I did not have time to shop around so white it is.
The only fertilizer I have used is a little bone meal and blood meal. I am staying organic all the way with these hops. I will soon use some compost tea (as soon as my compost nears completion).
So far I have not had an issue with deer or rabbits eating my hops bines. I believe a rabbit got one of my nugget bines but that was before I had selected the 2 best bines to grow and I clipped the rest of the hop shoots. Since then the bines have been left alone.
I am looking at buying / using a soil inoculant as the soil on the side of my garage has been neglected forever. My wife’s peonies, surrounded by rock mulch has not seen much organic matter. I had to dig up rock and plastic to make holes for the hop plants. Last fall I dug down a foot and 2 feet in diameter. I mixed in grass, leaves and wood ashes to supplement the soil. There wasn’t much black dirt or topsoil so I added some with the organic materials. The hop bines seem to be doing ok for first year hops. I am looking at some beneficial ground bacteria and mycelium (mushroom type fungus) which helps the roots – root stalk / crown absorb nutrients from the soil.