Fresh HOPS!

Here’s one project I can do without…  But, I think we’ll try to grow some hops in the front yard.

Here’s the ‘before’ shot on March 31, 2016.  My wife likes this picture the best, I think:

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I plan to run a couple plants parallel across the front yard and have the lanyards (??) stretch from the trees on one end to a structure on the other end, yet to be added…  Also, maybe some drip irrigation, but now we’re getting complicated.  I at least have the sprinkler system working, so that will suffice.

I did some quick searching and bought my hops from a website very cleverly named http://ebrew.com/.    Yeah, well they were inexpensive ($3.99 per rhizome), however shipping was about $20…

I’ll admit, I really don’t know what I’m doing here, but you don’t buy ‘seeds.’  You buy rhizomes, which are the root w/ some shoots or potential shoots that will grow.  I purchased:
8 Cascade Hops Rhizomes
4 Chinook Hops Rhizomes
2 Willamette Hops Rhizomes.

Here’s a generic picture of the Rhizomes.

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Planting should be done around March or April (perfect timing) after the ground thaws.  Hence in Northern CA, I think we’re good on the frost and freezing issue:-)

Harvest around end-of-August or September.  We’ll see if we have something by then!?

Hops Arrive April 20, 2016

It took a couple weeks to receive the hops, but I did get an email back from ebrew.com when I asked and the delay was because they hadn’t received the Willamette rhizomes yet.

The hops came packaged in plastic bags wrapped in moist paper towels.  They were all damp when I pulled them out, which is what I think you want.  Packaging shots:

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The first step in planting, per the instructions, was to soak the rhizomes in water for 1 hour.  I did that and added a little plant starter.  The plant starter was a recommendation from the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County when starting seeds like tomatoes.  They know their plants…  I hoped it wouldn’t hurt the rhizomes and added the plant starter to the water during the 1 hour soaking and then poured that water into the holes when planting:

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You’ll notice in the 5 gallon bucket that I separated the Hop Rhizomes via plastic pieces.  Worked just OK.  I didn’t want to ‘cross’ plant hop type with each other.   Also, look at all the nice shoots in the left-hand picture!  Those are the Cascade hops and the one with the really nice shoots was also the fastest and fullest growing hop shoot when they all started.

Digging holes!

Next, I dug holes and put in 2 rhizomes per hole in a vertical orientation, per ebrew’s instructions.  I dug seven of these holes!

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Also, our yard is made up of CLAY.  I would not recommend growing in clay, but I don’t have a choice, so when I filled the holes, I did a mixture of clay and compost.  When I ran out of compost I switched to potting soil.  If I were to do over, I’d put in 100% potting soil, but I didn’t know any better.  Also, one thought would be to get a large oak barrel-sized planter box and use that to grow the hops.  Might still do that next to the neighbors house, we’ll see.

Here’s what the covered/finished holes looked like:

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We have Sprouts!  April 30, 2016

It’s hard to see, but these are the first sprouts!!! Look in the lower left side of the hole.  Picture color enhanced slightly to pull out hop sprouty-ness!

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Gardener Protection May 8, 2016

The hops are starting to grow and I’m worried the gardener will mow the hops down, so I put up stakes and some black fencing I got from the hardware store.  Yeah, looks a little strange in the front yard, but this is hops farming…

The black fencing was originally 3 feet tall, but I cut them in 1/2 and that worked out quite well.  You’ll see one plastic bag on the first picture, because I was going to use that first, but it was cumbersome and too much effort for a poor result.  I used a staple gun to staple the fencing and plastic bag to the sticks.  Also, the sticks are 3/4 inch square by 8′ long that I cut in half.  This was less expensive than buying pre-cut green sticks/stakes in the lawn and garden section of the hardware store.  The 8′ lengths were  $1.95 each and cutting them took just a few minutes with a hand saw…

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Hops Vining – A start…  May 14, 2016

Now that the hops are starting to grow a little bit, we need some string for them to grow up.  So, I tied some baler twine around the posts.  I used a drill bit to drill holes in the top of the sticks and then tie horizontally one piece of twine between the sticks.  I tied a longer vertical piece of twine to the horizontal twine and let it hang down to the hops.   I’ll replace it all w/ a trellis, probably not very long from now…

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Trellis / Lanyards

Yeah – this is next…   Haven’t started it and will have to do something about it…  But, that’s for a later update.  I would have to say this is a good thing that we’ve gotten this far, means the hops are growing!!!

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