Growing Hops Plants - Diary
There are many reasons to grow hops plants. You might grow them because
you are a home brewer. Or, perhaps as a cash crop. For many gardeners,
it's the challenge of growing something they've never grown before.
Maybe you're growing them because it an easy to grow perennial. Then,
there's my favorite reason "because I can".
So, simply "because I can", I embarked on my first endeavor to grow
hops. I do not make beer, or wine for that matter, at home or anywhere
else. I do have people I can give the fruits of my labor, in this case
"cones". So at harvest time, the bountiful fruits of my labor should not
go to waste.
So watch, as I document and display my immense gardening prowess at
growing hops in the diary below..........
May 7, 2019 - I just picked up a rhizome from a friend of my
oldest son. The shoots have begun to grow, about six of them. The longest
is already over an inch long. I was told to get it into the ground
tomorrow. The variety is "Cascades". It's used to make pale ales and
IPAs, adding a citrusy flavor. I'm gung-ho, let's grow!
May 8, 2019 - And, so it begins.... It's planting time! I prepared the
planting site, mixing in plenty of rich compost. I was told the roots do
not like to be in wet, soggy soil. So, I mounded the planting area
slightly. I planted the rhizome a couple inches deep in the soil, with
just the tips of the growing shoots poking above the soil. There's still a
risk of frost an cold weather for the next couple of weeks. I'll be
prepared to cover them up , if need be. Yes, my hops plant is going to
June 6, 2019 - About one month after planting, the new hops plant is
already about 10 inches tall (From now on, I need to bring out
the tape measure).There are two major bines. The plant is beginning to
climb up the rebar I put next to it. As it grows taller, I will train
one of the bines to climb up the corner post (see left side of picture).
June 7, 2019 - I applied a dose of general purpose fertilizer. The
tallest bine is not grabbing onto the pole by itself yet. A light breeze
knocks it free. I continue to train it. It's a smart plant, so I know it
will get the idea soon (lol).
June 19, 2019 - We've had a lot of rain and cool weather the past few
weeks. I'm glad I elevated the soil just a little, to avoid root rot.
I'm sure a lot of the action is going on underground, as the plant is
developing its root system. The plant is growing slowly, but steadily.
More bines are emerging.
June 25, 2019 - The weather is finally turning into summer. The hops
bine is growing strong. The longest has reached 3 feet tall. Secondary
bines are beginning to appear off the main. I'm going to have to put
additional stakes or rebar next to the plant, for the bines to climb.
The question is: will they be long enough? I don't think so. I also need
to mulch around the plants and add some more fertilizer.
June 28, 2019 - Numerous bines are emerging. The largest bine is growing
up the rebar and is four feet long. I've trained another one onto the
fence and it has begun its upward climb. Like vining beans, the bines
grow several inches up without seeing major grow of the leaves, so it is
hard to see about the top foot of the bines. I weeded around the plant,
and applied a thick layer of leaf mulch.
July 2, 2019 - Multiple bines are growing strong and quickly. They
are beginning to climb up the fence that is around two sides of the
July 3, 2019 - More bines are climbing the outside fence. Some are
already near the top, four feet tall. Applied general purpose fertilizer. It should help
to continue the fast growth. Pulled just a few small weeds. The thick
layer of mulch is helping to keep the weeds down.
July 6, 2019 - The main bine is almost to the top of the first rebar,
about another foot to go. I tied a second rebar to the wooden corner
post. It goes up 12-15 feet.
July 9, 2019 - The main bine has jumped from the top of the first rebar,
to the second taller pole. Growth rates right now are phenomenal. The
main bine is about seven feet tall. I wish I had recorded the plant
height on a daily basis. Isn't hindsight great!? Many secondaries are
forming at each leaf node. I watered the plant, as it is a bit dry and
hot right now.
July 10, 2019 - The bines grow by the inches overnight! If my
calculations are correct, the main bine has grown over four inches a day
since early June. It's hard to see how tall they really are. The leaves
grow noticeably in size at a much smaller speed than the bine. The lower
leaves are getting more sizeable.
July 13, 2019 - It's hard to show this healthy, fast growing plant. (see
picture above). The leaves are still small and in the picture, they are
lost amongst the other lush plant leaves in my garden. But rest assured,
this hops plant is growing fats and looks great. The main bine is about
10-12 feet on the rebar growing beyond what's displayed in the picture.
Fortunately, getting a good picture is the only problem I'm experiencing
with this hops plant. Multiple bines have reached the top of the four
foot fence. I think I will train them to grow horizontally along the top
of the fence. Giving water regularly, as the weather is both hot and
dry. We sure could us a little rain for the whole garden. Today, mixed
in liquid fish and seaweed into the water.
July 21, 2019 - The hottest weather of the season so far, gave us 2 days
of temperatures in the mid nineties, and a heat index of near 110. I
made sure that my whole garden had plenty of water. While some of my
other plants wilted in the heat, the leaves on the hops plant showed no
signs of withering under the scorching rays of the sun. The bines showed
no sign of slowing down. The main bine has reached other top of the
pole, at about fifteen feet. I will let it now, grown downward
from the top of the pole.
July 22, 2019 - It looks like tiny flower buds are beginning to appear,
many of them. It will be another day or two before they will be large
enough for me to be sure. I was told I'd get just few cones in year
one. Based upon the buds I see, I could get a lot more.
July 27, 2019 - There's flowers popping out all over the bines. If only
ten percent of them develop cones, I'm going to have enough to operate a
commercial brewery! They say first year plants usually produce just a
few cones. We will just have to wait and see. The plants seem to love
the hot weather. I am keeping them watered. The original main bine,
reached the top of the pole a while ago. The tip is now growing downward
3-4 feet. Other bines are growing horizontally across the four foot wire
August 5, 2019 - The plant is absolutely loaded with flowers. They
aren't attractive, and don't really have any color, just a lighter color
of green than the plant's leaves. It's very dry right now. I am watering
deeply on a regular basis. It's been a while since I last applied
fertilizer. That's okay, as the plant continues to grow quickly. With
the flowers now out, I will switch to a high phosphorous and potassium
fertilizer to continue to promote blooms and soon growth of the cones.
August 7, 2019 - The flowers can hardly be called flowers. There's no
color and nothing attractive about them. That's okay, as long as they
produce the cones, I'm happy. There is some bulge behind the flowers.
It's just started. I gently squeezed a couple flowers, and can feel
cones in their infant stage. I'm going to have to learn how to make
beer, and a lot of it.
August 8, 2019 - We had a heavy rain yesterday, which will be followed
by heavy thunderstorms today. This breaks the back of the drought. I can
stop watering the hops for at least a few days. The main bine continues to
grow down from the top of the 15 foot pole. The speed of growth is
slowing noticeably. I'd say its about 20' right now. There's plenty of
growth horizontally along the fence. There is no evidence of insect
problems or plant disease. I was told this was an easy to grow plant,
with few problems. That's exactly my observation.
August 9, 2019 - One of you wrote to me (and I thank you), encouraging
me in my first efforts to grow hops. He said his vines grow profusely,
yet he doesn't add any extra water or fertilizer. I recognize I'm
pampering the plants, it's fun to do so. The cones are now visible,
there's a million of them! I recognize like any other plant, it will
shed a good fraction of the cones before they reach maturity. Which
causes me to wonder if I should be pruning off some of the cones, so the
ones remaining will be bigger. I'd appreciate hearing opinions from any
of you reading this diary.
August 10, 2019 - The cones are clearly visible now, about 1/4 inch
long. The bines are full of them. Deer are frequent visitors to my
garden fence, munching on whatever grows out of the mesh. I just
realized that deer are leaving this plant alone. Hooray! I'm thinking
this herb emits an aroma that we like in our beer, but the deer shy away
August 11, 2019 - I'm going away on vacation for about 12 days. I guess
this will be a good test, to see if this is truly an "easy to grow"
plant. Stay tuned for my next report in just under two weeks.
August 25, 2048 - I have just returned from a two week vacation.
As advertised, these are truly "easy to grow plants". They have done
just fine these past two weeks. There are dozens and dozens of cones. It
has been pretty dry while we were gone, yet the plants are not wilted.
The roots of this first year plant, have likely grown deep enough to
find the water it needs.
August 26, 2019 - I gave the hops plant a good drink of water. The cones
measure just over an inch long.
September 6, 2019 - The hops cones continue to grow and are ripening.
The largest of them measures two inches. They are getting a papery
quality, which says they are almost ready to pick. I will probably
harvest them in about a week.
September 13, 2019 - I harvested the hops. The first year crop was
expected to be small, but I can't believe how many there are. I have
them drying on a clean screen. Then, I will give them to the wonderful
friend who gave me the roots to plant last spring. And, so ends a very
successful year of growing hops plants for the very first time. The
experience lived up to everything that is written about them: easy to
grow, seldom bothered by insects or pant disease. And, perhaps best of
all, the deer would not touch them!
Recipes: May we suggest: