Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Hops Plants

Earlier this spring I was working with a Habitat for Humanity green building project, and one of the project members and I had a discussion about growing Hops. I mentioned I'd like to do that for a type of greenscreen if nothing else, and perhaps one day get into homebrewing.

Well, later that day, the energy rater colleague happened to stop by his father's house, who had extra hops plants growing. So he dug some up. And then just happened to be near our home and dropped them off for us. What a pleasant surprise!

I managed to separate the root rhizomes into several groups, and planted them into seven containers. Some of these looked pretty sorry, but to my surprise, eventually every single one formed into a plant!

And it turns out hops plants are very excellent vertical growers. The vines are almost sticky, and want to grab ahold of anything they can - including me when I was tried to train them.

I put a few of these into a raised bed near the garage, and strung some landscape string from hooks in the garage eave to the wood frame in the bed. The hops quickly found their way up the garage as shown at right. Within a few weeks, the vines then had nowhere else to go vertically, so they started spilling over and climbing up themselves. We now have a large bunching mass of hops. And since this wall receives the most sun in our tiny back yard, the plants started forming little flowers already.Elsewhere in the yeard between us and our neighbors, I took an extra 10' section of 1/2" gas pipe and pounded it in the ground almost 2 feet, threw a Tee on it and a few short segments to create a pole stand for two other hops vines. These hops vines have also worked out quite well - these were two of the plants I was less certain would make it.

These plants are not quite flowering, but they certainly are reaching for the sky. It may not be until next year that actual hops buds are produced. But that's okay, the main idea for these is to add some color against the drab color of the neighbor's home, as this is what you see when you walk off our back porch.

I subsequently learned all these hops plants are from the Siebel Institute, a well-respected brewing academy, so I think some homebrewing will be in my future. I even had extra plants that I donated for a friend's pergola. And Chris actually has brewed beer before, so they may get put to use sooner than mine. In the meantime, we're enjoying the extra vertical greenery in our small urban yard.