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Earth Day Project for the Beer Lover

Earth Day Project for the Beer Lover

Before I could not even spell Hop Rhizomes, now I write about how to grow them!

If you’ve got a green thumb and love craft beer, help your favorite home brewer start a Hop Garden. It’s time to pay him back for all of his beer you’ve drank.

The Basics

  • Hops grow from what is known as a Rhizome, or simply a root cutting (It resembles a twig.)
  • The more sunlight, drainage and water…the better. The ideal setting is having some sort of raised bed in loose soil for drainage.
  • The best hops for growing around here are the American varieties, with Cascade leading the way in success and yield.
  • Hops must have a trellis to grow on. They can grow really fast (6” a day) with the proper amount of soil, water, sunlight and nutrients, and will usually grow as high as your trellis. See Princeton Homebrew’s trellises. (pictured)

How do you know if the Rhizome is good?
You can check to be sure the rhizome is alive by looking for buds (sprouts) or cutting the end off and looking for the creamy white inside if it does not have sprouts.

What to Expect

  • The small sprout will start off purple, then change to white, then green in a few days.
  • Fertilize with an inch of fresh potting soil on top every month and the hops will respond by blushing green.
  • Growing season from late March to late October.
  • The leaves start off by resembling marijuana plants and then grow to look like 6” maple leaves.
  • The cones grow in clusters of three and are the only part that is picked and used in beer.

The Long Awaited Harvest

  • You should pick the cones when they get about 1 – 2” long and just before they turn straw colored.
  • Hop cones can be dried as they contain 80% water weight and then cool stored.
  • They can be used immediately without drying for “hop harvest” beers.
  • The first year sometimes does not produce many cones, but that is not always the case.
  • At the end of the year, cut the hop vines down to soil level, clean up the trellises and the rhizomes will rise again come next spring.

*Keep in mind that hops can be harmful to dogs if they are ingested.

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