Archive for Growing Hops
Fuggle container hops reached almost 15 feet tall.
This is my first Fuggle variety and my first container hop. (I lost a Mt. Hood container hop plant to 50 MPH winds) I have it in a 20 inch diameter, 16 inch deep pot. It appears to support vertical growth, we will see if it has enough volume to fill out and support abundant hop cones aka strobiles. I wanted to connect the pulley to the underside on my roof (18 feet) but my ladder was only 14 feet and I am afraid of heights. I was on the third rung of the ladder from the top and hanging on for dear life. So the best I could do was 15 feet into the corner trim.
Maybe next year I will get a taller ladder and go to the roof. I really want to see what the best height is for hops production. I am guessing it is at least 18 feet tall as that is what many commercial growers use. I have also read that some varieties produce more hop cones or strobiles if you keep the bines under 15 feet. Unfortunately, they didn’t mention which varieties.
I used a mixture of top soil, compost and composted manure. I am hoping this will supply the nutrition needed for one years growth. I mulched the top of the soil with grass clippings to retain moisture and keep the soil from baking. The soil may get some additional nutrition as the grass clippings break down. These are first year hops and are doing well. The wooden trellis next to the hops is my cucumbers. They are not doing nearly as good as the hops.
Living in Minnesota, I will have to protect the crown / root stock from our down to 30 below temps in the winter. I do not have an insulated garage or root cellar so I will have to insulate the container with leaves or bags of leaves. I will have to do some more research and see if I will be able to keep this plant in the same container or have to move it to a larger container or put it in the ground. I would think that because hop root stocks can grow to fifteen feet, that it would become root bound. I have heard of others that had their container hops roots come out the bottom of the container and into the ground.
Not certain if the spiney hop burrs will show in this pic on the post. They are pretty small and I will post a close up of the burrs when they are more abundant. I also wanted to show the lateral growth since the last post. These 3 are second year hops and should produce quite nicely. What I have read is they peak during the 3rd year so I am looking forward to next year to see how much better they will do.
The Cascades actually wrapped across the 2 ropes between them (used for lowering and raising the bines) and the Magnum hops and are intermingling a little. I will have to be sure to separate them during harvest. They are filling out quite nicely and I am expecting a lot more hop cones than last years 4 pounds.
That’s where things stand today – June 26, 2010. Hop on!
In cold climates it is important to overwinter hop plants / protect them from sub-zero temperatures. Hops do fairly well on their own but can be killed off if the ground is unprotected and hard freezes the ground. Snow will insulate the ground but occasionally the snow will be blown clear or animals may dig the snow away from the underground hop crowns (started as hop rhizomes).
No sense taking any chances of losing your hop plants to the weather. All it takes is a layer of mulch – I used 6 inches of leaves and grass I bagged while mowing. This also helps in the Minnesota climate to keep the ground cold enough in the spring to prevent hop sprouts from sprouting too soon and then freeze. Generally they will send up new shoots if the first hop shoots freeze and die off but why waste the root stock energy.
When sub-freezing temperatures have past in the spring, You just clear the mulch and and the hop crown will send up shoots as the ground warms.
Unless you want the hops to spread in all directions, you will want to trim the hop rhizomes by digging down and cutting the lateral running rhizomes and pull them up. You can plant these in other areas if you wish or give or sell them to friends and fellow hop growers and homebrewers. I will be cutting the rhizomes about a one foot radius from the center of the crown (two foot diameter to contain the hop plants). They are self propagating and will travel in all directions from the crown.
One problem with not containing the spread of hops is they will soon mix with other nearby varieties and can be hard to distinguish variety and/or you will have 2 or more variety of hop bines growing together and makes harvesting and separating the different varieties of hop cones difficult if not impossible. My varieties are 5 to 6 feet apart so with a little effort, I can keep them separate. You need to know which hops are which for accurate beer and ale recipes. You especially do not want to mix bittering hops with aroma hops.
That’s it, just a layer of mulch – leaves, grass, hay, straw or compost to protect the hop crowns and the organic material will also leach into the ground as an organic fertilizer. Next years hop yield will be even better!
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: