How to Grow Your Own Hops
Do you want to take your Home Brewing to the next level? One of the basic ingredients in beer is also very easy to grow. Hops will thrive in most moderate climates. Learning how to plant and care for Hops is easy and rewarding.
One of the basic ingredients in beer is also very easy to grow. Hops will thrive in most moderate climates. Learning how to plant and care for hops is easy and rewarding.
The hop plant is a hardy perennial plant. It will grow vines annually from the rootstock. These vines will grow up to 25 feet each season and die back after the harvest. The rhizome is part of the rootstock but posses the buds for propagation. Under good conditions, each hop vine will produce 1/2 to 2 pounds of dried flowers.
Receiving Your Hops
1. Once you have chosen which hop variety you plan to grow, Austin Homebrew Supply will ship them to you when they are ready. Unfortunately, Hop Rhizomes are harvested when the climate is right for harvesting. This may not always coincide with good planting conditions in your particular growing zone. So don't be alarmed if there is still snow on the ground when your rhizomes arrive. Upon obtaining the rhizomes, they should be stored wrapped in a plastic bag. This is also the way in which they will be shipped. The rhizomes should be slightly moistened, but not wet, and kept in a refrigerator or cool place. This will keep the moisture in and keep the light away from the rhizome. They will keep in this state until you are ready to plant. Once your growing zone is past any danger of frost, you will be safe to plant. Planting Your Hops
2. Choose the location in which you want to plant your hops. The area you choose will need to get at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day. In addition to sunlight, your plant will also need the following: Twine for the hops to grow on. (A bine is a climbing plant which climbs by its shoots. It is distinct from a vine, which climbs using tendrils or suckers.) Hops need vertical space. The bines may stretch 25 feet or longer into the air. Possible ways to grow your hops are on a tall trellis near your house, or a tall pole using hop twine. Planted hops will grow well on an 18-foot trellis and can grow vigorously when limited to 12 - 15 feet of trellis. Choose a spot with good drainage.
3. Prepare your soil before you plant your rhizomes. The soil should be loose and free from large clumps. Remove any debris, such as stones and weeds. Remove all weeds near the root to prevent the weeds from returning. Fertilize the soil with bone meal or blood meal and make sure the soil is loose and worked at a depth of 12 inches or more. Create a mound of soil for each rhizome that you will be planting, about 3 feet apart so they have plenty of room to grow. If you plan to grow more than one variety of hops, plant the mixed varieties at least 5 feet apart.
4. Plant the hop rhizome. Dig a 4-inch hole in each mound and lay the rhizome into the hole horizontally, with the root side down. When the bines emerge, they should grow about 6 inches. At this point, they need to be "trained". You will need to continue training the bines for a few days. They will begin growing clockwise around the trellis, vertically on their own. Don't be afraid to remove damaged or weak shoots. This will allow more room for the healthy bines to flourish. 4-6 bines should grow from each hop plant. After a few months of growth, trim the leaves off the bottom 2 feet of the bines. This prevents the plants from getting damaged by diseases or fungus.
6. Care for your new plants. The bines will begin to grow tall and strong. It is important to keep the soil around the plants free from weeds. Water the hops every day so that the soil stays moist, but not drenched. Continue caring for the hops in this way until late summer, when it's time to harvest them.
7. Harvest the hops. The harvest date will vary depending on your location and your season. It is safest to lower the bines in order to pick the flowers. Gently twist the ripe hop cones off as they ripen. If some ripen more quickly than others, leave the ones on the bine that still need time to ripen. Once you cut the bines, lay them down flat and pull off the cones. Cut the bines to an inch above ground level and cover with mulch until next season.
8. Dry the Hops. Place the ripe hops on a flat surface out of sunlight in a single layer. After they lie like this and begin to dry, flip them over to allow the other side to dry. Continue this process until drying is complete. The Hops are done drying when the inner stem (string) is brittle and breaks as opposed to bending. Pack the hops in an airtight container and freeze until they are to be used.
Growing your own hops is rewarding and exciting. Austin Homebrew Supply can help you get started on this great part of the hobby.