Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hop Yard Build 2012 - Part 3

Wow, it's already August! Summer flies by when you are having fun growing hops and brewing beer along with all the other fun stuff to do. In the last update back in May, we had finished the trellises, laid manure, formed the hills and finally transferred the hops outdoors to their real home. I had mentioned last time that with all the hot weather we have had this summer, it took some trial and error to find the right balance of watering to keep the plants happy. Many of the larger plants had a bit of a setback due to the sudden change in environment. We are happy to report that they have all made a full recovery and are doing very well, especially the Cascades. Some of which are easily 14-15 feet in length!
Hop trellis, Minnesota, Cascade, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,
The largest Cascade plant

Hop trellis, Minnesota, Cascade, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,
Lots of leaves!



Around the third or forth week of July, we began to notice many of the plants starting to form their first hop cones. This was very exciting because not only did it mean we had managed to keep the plant alive and strong enough to make it to this point in the growing season, but it also means that hopefully come fall, we will have some fresh homegrown hops to experiment with in some of our home brews! As of now, each of the 10 plants are starting to produce hop cones to some degree. The Cascades are producing substantially more cones. Likely due to the fact that they are much larger and have many more leaves at this point in the season. I consider it a success already that we have made it through a very dry summer with all of our bines still looking healthy and growing each day.
Hop trellis, Minnesota, Cascade, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,
Cascade Cones!

Hop trellis, Minnesota, Cascade, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,
Foreground: Cascades, Background: Centennials

A few side notes thus far this summer. The Mister Landscaper automatic watering system was definitely a good choice. There was no way we would have been able to keep up a consistent, hourly watering routine with our many busy schedules during the last few months. The system has worked very well. I have noticed the nozzles at each plant need to be adjusted every so often, most likely due to the fact that the water out here is relatively hard and can clog the screens and filters throughout the system. Having said that, they have provided ample water to each plant each day all summer long. Also, weeding has been easier than originally anticipated. In general, it has only needed a decent once over every 1 1/2 - 2 weeks to keep things under control. I think at the end of this season or next spring I will add some sort of barrier between the grass and the hills to limit the amount to which the yard grows into the drainage areas on either side of the hills.
Overall at this point I don't think we could have asked for much more out of this experiment. The plants are healthy, the bugs and mildew are almost non-existent, and the hop cones are well on their way to amounting to a great first season harvest. We will have to wait until the end of summer to find out exactly how well it ends up.
Hop trellis, Minnesota, Cascade, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,
They just keep growing, and growing, and growing...

Hop trellis, Minnesota, Centennial, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,
Strongest Centennial

Hop trellis, Minnesota, Centennial, Beer, Cones, Lupulin,

Until then, Cheers!
-Adam