Monthly Archives: May 2010

First Year Hop-Growing

I’ve been interested in growing hops for quite some time. Last year, I wanted to get them from the local organic farming association, and found their website and catalog to be extremely confusing, and by the time I was able to contact someone, they were all sold out. So the project was delayed until this spring.

sproutsI made arrangements to get some hops through my friend Nate, but I was concerned about finding myself in the same situation I was in last year, so I ordered 4 rhizomes from FresHops.com. I ordered a rhizome of Magnum, Chinook, Nugget and Willamette. These hop varieties were chosen mostly for their vigor, the exception being Willamette, which was chosen because I like them.

I planted these 4 large rhizomes (each the diameter of a large carrot) in 20″ pots in my sunroom, filled with potting soil. Within 2 weeks I had hop sprouts breaking ground. I was ecstatic. I waited until the sprouts became long enough to begin to train onto twine, and then ran twine from the rafters in the sunroom down to each plant.

hop-vinesI learned one sad lesson in this part of growing new hops. If you try to twist them too forcefully around the twine, you break them. If you break them, the don’t keep growing. Good to know.

After a couple weeks of growing, the new rhizomes appeared from my friend. These were Magnum, Cascade and Centennial. These rhizomes were much smaller, about the diameter of a thick pencil, but I had about 4-6 of each variety. I again planted them in 20″ pots.

These smaller rhizomes do not have the same amount of stored energy that the larger ones had, and are taking much longer to break ground. To date, only the magnum have broken ground, but I know that the others are working hard to establish a root system, and hopefully they’ll all be happy next year.

My current challenge is to water them all enough to keep them happy, without overwatering. That and to temper my hopes for a decent harvest this fall from the larger plants.

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