If you are someone who really loves having a beer every now and then, why not take this opportunity to learn how to grow your own hops? With a leafy vine of your own, you get the chance to brew up some unique tasting home-made beer! What’s more, you could also earn yourself some extra cash.
The process of growing hops is not too hard and with some tips from us, you will be able to quickly adapt and have healthy hops in your garden.
It is not too hard to find the ingredients needed to make beer for yourself. If you are not keen on brewing your own beer, you could sell the hops to local beer makers.
Usually, the female flower of the Humulus lupulus vine is the preferred plant when it comes to brewing beer. This is because it enhances the flavor and aroma of the beer and is also a natural preservative.
Beer is not the only thing you are limited to making with your hops. They can also be used as a calming medicinal remedy or added into your salad or used as a topping for your french fries.
A list of the best hop varieties:
- Chinook: has a citrus, pine, and spicy undertone. Grows well in hotter climates
- Crystal: has a woody aroma. This is perfect for home growing as it produces a lower yield. Additionally, it is resistant to verticillium wilt.
- Casade: citrus and grapefruit taste. A popular choice.
There are over 120 different types of hops to choose from. When deciding which to grow, you have to consider factors such as climate, flavor and desired yield.
Another thing to note would be the alpha acid percentage. The higher the percentage, the more bitter tasting the beer will be.
Pick a space that has the most sunlight throughout the day and ensure that the hops are given six to eight hours of sun daily. It would be best for the hops to get sunlight during the late morning and early afternoon as the sun is not too harsh during that period.
Hops grow best in USA hardiness zones three to eight. They are also highly affected by the length of the day and thus do not thrive well in extreme latitudes.
The pH level should be between six to seven and a half. You would need rich and well-drained soil that is rich in well-rotted organic matter. If you happen to have clay soil, it is a must to improve your soil’s drainage before planting. To do that, add compost and aged manure to the soil. Other materials such as straw and sand can also be used, if not try planting them on raised beds.
- Rhizomes: a piece of root from a female plant. Found mostly in the fall. If harvested during early spring, store them in a cold and dark place till it is time to plant.
- Crown: an entire plant.
Hops grow upwards, as such, they need a proper structure to keep them from falling. Use a steady pole or trellis. There has to be room for the hops to spread out as well. Hops grow in a helix structure and can cover a 20-foot vertical trellis very rapidly.
Planting Hops Outside
It takes about 120 days for the hops to grow. Once the frost has gone, you may then begin to place the hops outside, making sure that the soil is warm even.
Arrange the rhizomes horizontally into the soil with the buds (if any) pointed upwards and the roots downwards. Gently pack the soil and water it a little.
As for crowns, place the crown into a hole in a ground, molding the dirt around it and water it slightly.
Starting Indoor Hops
If the location you are at has a short growing season, you can start growing the hops indoors for six to eight weeks before the final frost date. Before you transplant them outside, remember to harden the hops for a week first.
On hilled earth, place the rhizomes two to three feet away from each other with three to five feet in between the rows. There should be a one-foot high mold around each rhizome for better drainage.
Caring for Hops
Hops need around one and a half inches of water every week. As such, a good suggestion would be to have a drip irrigation system. The system can help to reduce disease.
Do not let your hops compete with weeds. As such, use a well-rotted organic mulch to deter other plants from coming. Place one to two inches of mulch before the growing season starts.
During the early summer, hops must be trained once they are around two feet long. To do this, use a strong bailing twine. Have the cord at around ten feet and spread it over the row of plants, bringing twine down to each plant. After that, secure it with a stake at the bottom of the plant.
Since hops grow rapidly, it would be a good idea to prune them so that you can better control their growth.
Harvesting and Storing Tips
It takes three years for the hops to reach full production. To figure out if it’s time for harvest, check if the hops feel papery and dry. Once touched, a yellow powder residue will be found on your fingers. When squeezed, a scent is released and the hop will revert back to its original shape.
To harvest, cut the bines when the majority of the cones are ready. After harvesting, air-dry the hops by the window with direct contact with the sunlight.
For a longer shelf-life, make sure that the hops are not exposed to moisture.
We hope these hop-growing tips have been helpful to you. Other than making beer, you can also consider using them in your dishes or turning them into medicine. Growing your own beer might be tiring but the reward is worth the wait. Imagine the taste of your own beer, it would most definitely taste rewarding and better than a beer you just buy off the shelf.