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.

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