|Hopys (Humulus lupulus) Hops The only place I know in the area where wild hops appear every year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
|Hops (Photo credit: Scout Seventeen)|
I am excited to finally be able to grow a plant I have long admired but never had the room for - hops!
Husband is excited too as he wants to start brewing his own beer, with fresh (or freshly dried) hops from our own yard.
I don't drink beer, but I do like to take cheesecloth bags of dried hops and sew them into sleep pillows. The scent of the flowers is hypnotic.
Hops needs plenty of room - during the active growth season (from early May to mid-July) hops can grow as much as a foot per day. By the time the flowers are ready to harvest, you may have a 25 foot long vine.
When selecting a site, be sure that it has plenty of vertical space, direct sunlight for most of the day and easy access to water.
Hops likes a rich, neutral soil so be sure to fertilize the site with plenty of manure or compost.
Hops needs a strong framework on which to grow. You can tie and grow the vines along fences, build a framework or trellises, or use the side of a building strung with heavy-duty twine for support.
At Rainbow's Acre, we're planning to grow hops alongside the wall of the garage (which is oriented to the southwest).
Plant hops rhizomes as early in spring as possible after the last frost. Mulch deeply to retain moisture. When the vine reaches about a foot in length, choose 2-3 of the strongest shoots and start training them up your trellis or framework. Trim back any side shoots to keep the plant strong and healthy.
The flower cones are ready to harvest when they feel papery and light. You may want to wear gloves while harvesting as some people are sensitive to this plant. Cut cones from the stems to avoid damaging these fragile flowers.
Cones can be used fresh or dried. The drying process can take a few days, depending on the method you use. Be sure that the cones are thoroughly dry before storing them though, or you'll end up with a moldy mess.
Would you try growing hop vines?