Growing hops advice please

Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:21 pm

This is my third season for these hops. I'm wondering if I need to be doing something different. See the pics. I have dug them out. My growing hops book says to remove the protective topsoil/mulch after winter and lay down some new soil. For the last two seasons I have gotten tons of hop cones.

Questions I have:

1) Should I be pruning the main clumps? If so any advice how?
2) I dug out the clay soil, laid in a bed of planting soil. The hops have said who cares and burrowed diligently into the clay. Problem with that is that it's too think to let the hop runners break out. Any advice?
3) Is this kind of root growth normal?
4) How can I do rhizome cuttings and when should I?
5) My main hop plant has at least 5 1" thick roots that run laterally for 2 to 4 feet. Is this normal/ok?

Pics web album: http://picasaweb.google.com/JT.Neville/HopsSpring2010#

Thanks!

JT

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rwcbeerclub
 
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:08 am

i'd just cover it back up and keep doing what you are doing. i usually trim mine when it's about 2-3' high, i just pick the 4 fattest bines and cut the rest back. i do this about once a week and it really keeps it in check. then i go on vacation for 2 weeks in the summer and come home and the fuckin thing goes absolutely nuts while i'm gone. it's ok. it looks good and hops are always good, i use them in 3-4 brews a year. If you can get some bat guano, get some and mix it in with the soil you use to cover your root ball. it's the best shit out there...:lol:
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:41 am

Looks perfectly normal to me.

1) Should I be pruning the main clumps? If so any advice how?
The crown? I don't think so. Remember what your rhizome looked like?

2) I dug out the clay soil, laid in a bed of planting soil. The hops have said who cares and burrowed diligently into the clay.
Problem with that is that it's too think to let the hop runners break out. Any advice?
remove all the clay? But seriously, if you mean the bines that will eventually grow skyward, at least then you won't have another bine growing several feet away from the crown (being more tidy)

3) Is this kind of root growth normal?
Yes

4) How can I do rhizome cuttings and when should I?
With something sharp? :D Again, remember what your rhizomes looked like when you first got them. You should cut the roots back to about one foot away from the crown and remove the roots or they will begin to grow on their own.

5) My main hop plant has at least 5 1" thick roots that run laterally for 2 to 4 feet. Is this normal/ok?
Sure it is, hops are prolific growers

"The Homebrewers Garden" suggest trimming the root system every 3 years.
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:19 am

If you are getting tons of hop cones, keep doing what you are doing. I mulch with 6 inches of leaves because I am in an extremely cold climate (Minnesota -30 below zero during the winter) - other than the protective mulch, I would not remove any soil.

That lateral root is a rhizome. You could leave it and have a wall off hops or cut it into sections and plant elsewhere, sell them or give them to friends.
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growinghops
 
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:36 pm

Thanks for all the advice. Two follow up questions if you don't mind.

Will different types of hop plants interact? To clarify, does having multiple types of hops in my garden bed risk their purity? Since the roots/plant are prolific I hazard a guess that the 3 feet between different varities and training trellis's may not be enough.

Can the root ball get too big? I have another in a different area of the yard that is as big as a size 4 soccer ball. When I uncover for spring prep all the new shoots seem jammed so densely into the ball that they might be getting in each others way. Some varmints tried to dig it out over the winter and failed miserably. It's tap root is 3" to 4" in diameter.

btw it's already covered back up with fresh soil ready for spring training... har har.
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:54 pm

IMHO your main concern of having them too close is when the bines grow and begin to shoot horizontally - they'll end up growing up each other and you might not know which is which. The roots could also travel underground a couple feet and you end up with the same type of problem. I think 3 feet is recommended for the same type of hops, and 5 feet for different varieties. Since you should only have female plants, you won't worry about them cross pollinating or anything.

And lastly, I don't think the crown can get "too big". I wouldn't worry about it.
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:00 pm

Cool. To deal with the bines I use a wire system I saw at Sunset in Menlo Park last summer. Basically let them go up the trellis and then grab the bine and train each type on to it's own laterally strung wire. Helps with the harvesting since I hang the wires at ladder height.
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Re: Growing hops advice please

Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:44 pm

I have 10 varieties going (some not so good), the oldest 4 years, the youngest 2, I think. I only have something like .05 acres, and my house, patio & driveway take up like .04 acres. So I have the hops growing in an area bout 4'x20', staggered. My trellis is 20' tall and consists of a horizontal line running from one pole to another, and the "bining lines" hanging from the horizontal line. The Cascade & Chinook are next to each other and tend to get their bines intermingled toward the end of the season. They're about 3 feet apart. But I can lower the horizontal line for harvesting, so no ladder.
But I'm rambing :drink
But JT - thanks for posting this as it reminded me to get started earlier this year so things don't get outta hand.
:aaron :jnj
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