Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hops Update - June 23

A quick (and late) update with a few pictures. The plants are still growing strong and the cascades are putting on more cones. They have also started to send out horizontal shoots which I hope will fill up with even more cones! The goldings is looking strong for its second year and I hope that I will be able to get some cones from it this year. The centennials have started to put on cones as well, although they are several weeks behind the cascades.

Cascades (left), Cascade Cones (center), New Cascade (right):

Goldings (left) and Centennials (right):

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hops Update - June 19

This update is just a few pictures to keep visual track of changes. All of the hops are doing well and the second year cascades are really starting to put on a lot of cones!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hops Update - June 12

Well, I'm finally catching up with posts for this year with this somewhat recent update on the hops progress. All the plants are doing very well, but at different stages due to variety and how aggressive I was when trimming early in the season. The picture to the right is of the entire hop garden, strung on the new hop trellis, and as of yet I haven't received any complaints from the neighbors!

The goldings plants I started new this year (left) are healthy, but as my first year golding last season, I don't expect to get any cones off of these plants this year. I plan on experimenting with trimming them, keeping a few to only 2 strong bines, and letting the others go with up to 6. Then next season, I can see if there is any noticeable difference in the strength and viability of the second year plants.

The early season growth for the 2 centennial plants was crazy, with each of the hop mounds looking like thick bushes. Each plant shot bines out everywhere which caused me to be more aggressive with trimming them back in April. Therefore, they (right) are a little behind the cascades but doing very well. With any luck, one of them will have bines topping the new trellis before my next post!

The cascades are rocking along. As you can see from the picture on the left, one of them has already expanded several bines along the top trellis string. Those bines are now over 15 ft in length! The other second year cascade is close behind and the new cascade while small, looks strong and should produce well next year. Oh, the 2 second year cascades are already putting on cones (right)!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hops Update - May 30

Just a couple of pictures of the cascades just a few days after getting the new trellis completed....yeah, they are topping the NEW trellis!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Hop Trellis

My first hop trellis was only about 7-8 feet tall, and by the end of last year's season, most of my first year plants had overgrown the trellis. So, I decided that the trellis needed to be taller and just hoped my neighbors wouldn't complain! So, what to do for the new trellis and keep from spending a lot of $$$?

I was able to get some 8ft lengths of 1 ¼ inch boiler steam pipe from my dad along with a length of pipe that fit just over the the outside of the 1 ¼ pipe. That allowed me to take two 8ft lengths of pipe and weld them together to total 16ft tall, using the over sized pipe to provide strength. The picture on the left, shows the section of one of the pipes after being welded together. Each of these pipes was sunk into the ground 2 ½ ft, making the new trellis 13 ½ ft tall. The picture on the right shows one of the new pipes next to the old trellis showing how much taller it is.

I made caps to go on top of each of the 4 pipes I used for the trellis. I cut short lengths of the over sized pipe, welded plate over the top of one end and then drilled and installed large eye hooks. The caps had 2 purposes, provide a place to string trellis line and to keep water out of the pipes. Needless to say, it was a bit unnerving stringing all of the lines. Since the caps were 13 ½ ft off the ground, I had to stand on the top rungs of an a frame ladder to barely reach.

My helpers chillin out on the roof of the shed!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hops Update - May 23

Memorial Day weekend left me with a lot of work to get done, some of which I still have yet to do! The big agenda items were weeding the vegetable garden and working on the new hop trellis. As you can see from the picture of the cascades (left), the 8 foot trellis from last year was not going to cut it! Only 2/3 the way through May and multiple bines already wandering the top and twisting themselves together. New post!

The new Goldings plants (right) are doing very well. I'm not sure that there will be any cones to harvest from them this year, but they are growing and will come back strong next year. For experimenting with creating new rhizomes from first year plants, I'm very happy with the results!

Hops Update - April 2009

The beginning of this year's hop season has seen me traveling every week, so tending to the hop garden and updating the blog just didn't get done! Here are some early pictures of the plants from the latter part of April.

Cascade 1 (left) and Cascade 2 (right):

New Cascade from rhizome (left) and Goldings (right):

Centennial 1 (left) and Centennial 2 (right):

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cascade Rhizome Update

Just a quick update on the cascade rhizome survival. When I cut it from the crown the beginning of the month, I was very interested to see how it would do no longer attached to the main plant for sustenance. As you can see from the pictures, it has done very well and looks as though it will fulfill its purpose, to replace the cascade plant I lost last year due to storms.

When measured this past weekend, there were approximately 10 shoots showing, with one of them about 3 feet tall! Now the decision is whether or not to separate the rhizome into a few different rhizomes before planting in the hop garden. If all goes well, I'll have to make that decision this coming weekend and get this thing planted.

Next on the to-do list, is to build a new hop trellis to support the expanded garden, and provide more room for the hops to grow vertically.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grow-Hops Yahoo Group

After posting today about my rhizome experiment, I got a comment from Bill Velek, the curator of the Grow Hops Yahoo Group. The last time I posted about the Grow-Hops Yahoo group, it was associated with my posting about the hop plugger I built based on discussions from the group.

If your new to hop growing or home brewing, or just want more information regarding the 2 hobbies, check out the Grow-Hops Portal for a wealth of information, and all if it from other home brewers and hop growers!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rhizome Experiments - Successes & Failures

Spring is here, well it's trying anyway! Here in Oklahoma, we had days with highs in the 70s and low 80s, and a few days later it was snowing! This past weekend provided mild temperatures in the 50s with sunshine, perfect weather for spending time in the yard.

I decided to spend time pulling weeds from the hop garden and checking for rhizomes I tried to create. Admittedly, I had both success and failure but know how to make more rhizomes for next year. First, let's cover the success!

I was able to successfully create rhizomes in 2 ways:

1. During the growing season, take a bine that is growing above ground and bury a portion of it, leaving the tip above ground and allowing it to continue growing.

2. At the end of the season, leave a small amount of the lower bine attached to the crown and cover it with dirt. The buried bine needs to be healthy and approximately the same diameter as a dime at a minimum.

If you are planning on trying to create rhizomes during the growing season, it is best to get a start early in the season. The pictures below are of 2 rhizomes I created from my Goldings plant. The picture on the left is a bine that I buried early in the season, and was one I had growing up my main trellis. The picture on the right, is a bine I let grow to about 2 feet later in the growing season and buried it. I suspect they are both going to produce plants, but the diameter of the rhizome planted earlier in the season is about twice as large, and as you can see already has a more established root structure.

As for the failures....

I had several plants that I left lower bines attached and covered. In most instances, the bines I covered were small in diameter and they just did not produce any rhizomes. I also tried just taking cut bines and burying them in a trench. This did not produce any rhizomes either. I may try this trench method again this next year with larger diameter bines to see if it makes a difference.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cascade Rhizome!!!

Well, I couldn't stand not knowing what that growth was from. I was hoping it was due to my attempt to create some rhizomes to replace the cascade I lost due to storms last year, and to start new plants. If it survives.....

Using a small stick, I gently started digging away at the hop mound. I couldn't remember exactly how I had left the crown on this and didn't want to damage any of the plant. After about five minutes of labor, here is what I found:

This plant at the end of last season had one main bine with several offshoots as you can see. The main bine heading down into the ground is right at the center of the picture, so everything you see is the resulting rhizome!

So I trimmed the rhizome right at ground level and carefully replaced all the dirt mound on top of the remaining plant. The trimmed rhizome was then taken inside for a few more pictures and a replanting in a hanging basket for some pampering. Here's hoping it survives and I can plant it out in the garden at the end of March!

Here are a few more pictures of the rhizome:

Friday, February 27, 2009

2009 - Hops Coming Back!!!

I was up late last night working and caught the most recent episode of Basic Brewing Radio talking about top cropping yeast from a carboy. During the outro, James indicated that hops were starting to poke out of the ground in Arkansas, and since I live only a few hours away, I wondered about my hops. So I went out today and checked, and one of my cascade mounds is showing signs of life already!

This is one of the plants that I left some of the bottom bines attached to the crown, wrapped them in a coil and covered with dirt. This weekend I'll probably unearth the top of the mound and see where the growth is coming from. If it is from the coiled bines, I'll probably trim the 'rhizome' and transplant to replace the cascade plant I lost last year.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Election Day IPA - beer review

OK, so it's been a LONG time since I've posted, and honestly the keg of IPA is long gone. All in all it was a very good beer if I can say so. As most beers go, serving too cold did not do this beer justice. As it warmed up a bit, it had an amazing nose of grapefruit and orange. As you can see from the picture, I like my IPAs on the darker side of the style, with a good malt backbone and a lot of hops. This beer needed a little more mouthfeel, so next time I'm planning on mashing @ 156F instead of the 153F I ended up with during this brew.

I did want some constructive criticism on this beer so I entered it in the AHA Club Only Competition with my local homebrew club FOAM. It did not win out against the other brews submitted by fellow club members to get submitted for the national judging, but I did get some BJCP score sheets back! Average score of 31/50 wasn't bad for my first beer ever reviewed and brewed with homegrown hops to boot!