Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hops Update - May 29 Growth

Just a quick update on progress. Some growing fast, others slowly making progress, and the poor second chance cascade is still alive! The following 3 pics are of the cascades:

The next 3 are of the 2 Centennial (left) and one 'OK' Goldings (right). Lots of weeds, I know...but I've been busy!

Just for fun, I decided to do a measurement on the most prolific cascade plant. Using a sharpie, I marked the tip of the bine on the trellis twine, then measured a week later to see how much it had grown. As you can see from the pic on the right, over 2 feet of growth in one week! I hope the rest of the plants start catching up so I have at least some hops to harvest the end of the summer.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hops Update - May 19 Growth

The biggest cascade (left) is going strong and it now has 3 bines climbing the trellis chord. I'm amazed at how fast it is growing, inches per day! I've read that at the height of growth, they can grow over a foot a day. The 2 centennial plants are healthy, but are growing slower than the other plants. I am having good luck with my goldings plant (right), even though on message boards and several podcasts, it sounds like these don't grow as well in the Midwest. It has one climbing bine, and 2 others that will be long enough to train on the trellis soon. I also had a cascade (below) that got damaged in a recent storm, and the 2 bines that were about 10 inches long were broken off at ground level. These plants however are very resilient, and it has sprouted 2 new bines and looks like it will rebound. This week, I fertilized with Miracle Grow all purpose 15-30-15, mixing up a gallon, and dispensing that gallon across the 6 plants. More updates to come!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Hop Garden

OK, so I purchased rhizomes and got them started in pots (see previous posts). The next step was to find a place to plant them and prepare the area. I decided on an area in the northwest corner of my back yard, up against my shed and the neighboring privacy fence. This area gets a lot of midday and early afternoon sun, but does provide a little shade for the late afternoon which can be very hot in Oklahoma. As the hops grow up the trellis, they will get more and more of the afternoon sun. Of course, I don't have a tiller, so I had to prepare the bed with hand and shovel, lots of fun! I prepared the bed in an L shape up against the fence and shed, the picture on the right is half way through the process, ugh!

So, once I got the full bed prepared, I spaced out the hops per recommendation by Freshops, 3 feet between same variety, 5 feet between different varieties. See the plan of the bed (left) for plant placement, and to see where the trellis lines were placed. For each plant, I dug a hole about 1.5 feet deep, and a foot in diameter. I put a few handfuls of dried spent grains at the bottom of the hole. The dirt dug out of the hole was mixed with an equal amount of sandy loam, and a small amount of ash. The hole was then filled back in with this mixture, and then the rhizome planted about an inch from the surface, and then a small mound of dirt on top. Below are some pictures of the finished bed. Before I put up the 'trellis'.

For the trellis, I took advantage of the privacy fence. I nailed up slats on 2 of the existing posts, and I sunk one post on the other side of the bed by the shed. I then strung twine between the 3 'posts'. I got some 2x2x8 treated posts, and used 2 of them for center support for the twine. For each plant I cut 2 lengths of twine, long enough to wrap over the top of the guy lines and come back to the ground. These were staked at the bottom of each hop plant, forming a twine T pee. This design is only 8 feet tall, so depending on first year growth, I may have some really bushy plants. Next year I plan to modify the trellis, so that it is around 14 feet tall.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Growing Hops

Well, I decided to take on a new challenge this year, and that was to grow my own hops! I ordered my rhizomes from and about 10 days later, received the package in the mail.

Above on the left is an East Kent Golding rhizome and on the right is Cascade. Soon after receiving the rhizomes, I planted each in a separate temporary pot (because I hadn't yet figured out where I would put them!) In total, I planted 1 EKG, 2 Centennial and 3 Cascade into pots. By mid April, all of the plants were showing bines!

Above left, the EKG. Above right one of the Cascades. Below, all 6 hop plants starting strong.

Next post, I'll line out the plant bed I put together and the VERY simple trellis structure. Here's 'hoping' all goes well and all 6 plants last the Oklahoma summer!