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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hoppy at Home

It all began with a plan for an outdoor space where we could entertain friends. We built a simple arbor that would host some climbing plants aggressive enough to grow over the top and provide some shade. I did some research and learned that hops grow quickly, the added bonus of using hop flowers from the garden in our home-brewed beer just seemed too fun to pass up.

I planted three Cascade hop plants at the base of the arbor last August, knowing I wouldn't get much growth, but I'd be laying groundwork for this year. Hops don't usually produce many flowers their first season, so if you want to harvest hops next year, you can plant them this year to establish roots. After the summer, I cut the plants down to the ground, mulched them and waited for summer. Once the plants sprouted, I set up twine to the top of the arbor for vine support and wound new growth around the string. Once it warms up, hops send up vine shoots very fast; I swear I actually witnessed growth during the course of dinner at our picnic table below one evening.

Now, it's August and our hops are flowering, quite abundantly. I think I may have a couple pounds of on my hands in the coming weeks. Cascade hops have floral and citrus aromas, with notes of geraniums and alfalfa and are often used in pale ales. I've enlisted my friend and home brewer Dave Selden to help with brewing. Stay tuned, if things go well, I'll report back with my brewing experiences! —Siobhan Crosby

3 comments:

annie said...

Hops are SO pretty! Do they get messy at all? And Do you know if there are any "ornamental" varieties? I've been looking for a vine for my back porch but don't want anything to unruly. Thanks.

Siobhan said...

No mess so far, but hops are aggressive—they will climb as long as there's something to cling around. They need to be trained throughout the growth cycle and at heights up to 20 plus feet, I'm not sure they're back porch appropriate....

seth said...

Just wait until next year!!!! I am on year three with my Cascades... they are borderline out of control with THICK shoots and endless amounts of cones.