Gowanus Brewery


Notes on Growing Hops by Jeremy
May 8, 2008, 12:00 am
Filed under: hops

Friar Smith was kind enough to address a couple of concerns I had regarding our hop garden and to share some general wisdom, based on his own experiences.

On my hop trellis design:

Your first-year hops will not bush-out much at the top, so being 14″ apart at the top is not an issue for now. Next year, you may want to add some type of divider along the top two to three feet of your trellis to keep the plants apart. Be a ruthless pruner: if you are disciplined and keep your bines limited to 3-4 per plant (that’s so hard when healthy ones pop out!), you will keep the bushing-out to a minimum, limit the expansion of the root mound (read: keep the thing contained and under control), and really increase the amount harvested. I usually let the first 7 or 8 bines grow to about 18 inches, then keep the 4 healthiest.

You should consider installing at least one staked guy-wire perpendicular to the orientation of the hangers at the top to safeguard the pole during windy days.

After-planting tips:

The first sprouts should break ground in 21-28 days, depending on weather.

Rather than participate in the clockwise/counter-clockwise debate, consider first the path of the sun relative to each plant. The tip of the plant will follow the sun and wrap in that manner. If you are unsure, wrap the bine in the way it grows naturally. Fighting it is useless, because they will either unwind themselves or start to grow their own way anyway… which is probably best.

Remember, July is mini-skirt month. Once your plant grows 5-7 feet and starts to send out lateral growth (where the cones will set), thin out the foliage on the bottom four feet of each bine so you just see the twine and bine. This will discourage mildew, aphids, and will focus more of the plant’s energy towards the top section and those precious cones.

The two products below probably can be ordered online, and you might find them at a hardware or nursery that sells organic fertilizer. I’ve never seen these at HD or Lowes. They are simply awesome for hops. Two lupulin-covered thumbs up…

Fish emulsion: Mix one tablespoon in a gallon of water. Apply once each week to the base of each plant until you get lots of burrs (around July 1st). This stuff stinks (it’s ground up fish and fish excrement from hatcheries) and is hard to wash off your hands, so wear some kitchen gloves.

Mor-Bloom: Mix at the same ratio, but start weekly applications around July 1st through harvest. Does not stink!

After-harvest tip:

After your harvest, don’t cut the vines down until a week or so before your first heavy frost, which for the east coast, is probably sometime in October. This will encourage further root growth until the ground freezes. Then cut the bines about knee-height and cover them with compost and leaf litter.

Thank you Friar Smith!

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