Hops in Leaps and Bounds
April 2, 2017
In his book Five Hundred Points Of Husbandrie, Thomas Tusser gives these instructions.
March drie or wet,
hop ground go set.
Yoong rootes well drest
proove ever * best.
Grant hop great hill
to growe at will.
From hop long gut
away go cut.
According to the old calendar, now is the time to see to your hops. Hops are a beautiful plant. They are vigorous growers sometimes gaining a foot a day. Hops are a bine, not a vine. Vines use tendrils or rootlets to climb whereas bines curl their whole stem around their support. You don't have to plan to use them to make beer to grow them in your garden. They make stunningly beautiful green cover for fences or outdoor “rooms”.
There's a local restaurant that has a screen of hops around their outdoor patio. I love going there in the middle of summer to get an ice cream cone and enjoy the cool shade provided by these lovely plants. This site tells how to create this sort of screening around a deck. It also offers a few other ideas for decorative use.
Hops are perennials native to both Europe and the Americas, hardy in zones 3-8. They aren't very picky about growing conditions but they prefer a soil that drains well with a PH between 6.0-8.0.
I volunteer at The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown and I spent one spring working in their hopyard. One of the practices they follow there is to plant their hops in hills. This gives the advantages of a raised bed in that the soil warms faster in the spring and it dries quickly in soggy conditions (which they experience frequently in the spring). Since soggy conditions tend to cause rot in the rhizome, the hills make sense. The only place I've seen this practice suggested in any of the research I've done for this post is in Mr Tusser's rhyme above, so I thought I'd pass it along in case you want to try it.
Other than that, this PDF has a good summary of the particulars of planting and growing your hops. One thing to remember is that hops are not a “stick in the ground and forget” plant. They have definite needs beyond the planting and they can become invasive if left to their own devices.
If you'd prefer to try growing them in containers, have a look here or try the technique of growing bines at an angle to allow full height growth without taking up full height space that this Good Gentle has outlined.
I found a couple of good videos on hops. Be sure to notice the incredible canopy that the Good Gentle in this first one has created using our Noble Interest.
This video is short but gives a good idea of the type of root pruning that hops require.
If what you're raising your hops for is so you can make your own homemade, artisanal brews I will be writing about brewing your own from your homegrown hops on Thursday but just in case you want to think about making your hobby your business, here's an article about growing hops for profit.
If I forgot anything or if you have a different way of growing your hops that I didn't find, let me know in the comments below. Remember to like and share this post. Thanks for stopping by.
Tomorrow I'll peek into the kitchen and see what I can find.