For my second year of growing hops, I’ve made a few additions and I have a lot more to do. I mentioned my less than ideal trellis and the fact that one of my rhizomes never sprouted. This year, I addressed both of those things.
I’m still not sure that my trellis setup is great, but it is definitely an improvement. I added two more fence posts, one on either end of the line of hops, in addition to the one in the middle. Once they were in place, I ran twine along the top of the three posts. I just stapled it into the posts, but I’ve learned that it would probably be better to anchor it on the ground on either side with stakes. The twine stretched and trying to pull it taught has been an issue.
After that, I ran twine from a stake at each of the hop plants up to the twine across the posts. I tied it on at either end. Once the hops were ready, I trained them clockwise up the twine. The first shoots coming up were not trained, though.
I mentioned that in the first year you just want the plants to establish themselves. As a result, I didn’t trim them at all, I just let them grow. This year, they’re already established so when they first started popping up, around a week into April, I trimmed them all off. I kept doing this until around the middle of May. This is a date I got from my local homebrew shop and it may be different depending on where you live.
Once it reached the middle of May, I picked the two or three shoots from each variety of hops that looked the best and began training them up the twine. I still continue to trimming off additional shoots. You don’t want the plants to put all of their energy into making more and more bines, you want them to make hop cones. To encourage this, you want to make sure they focus on just a couple, big strong shoots.
It’s only been about a week since starting to train the hops and my Centennial plant already climbing close to the top of the six and a half foot twine. The top third or so of that is just vine without any leaves. I’m not really sure if this recommended, but I’ve been trimming them back more, hoping they’ll develop heartier bines instead of taller ones.
That is where I’m at with the five plants that survived last year. I’ve also planted three more rhizomes. In place of the Columbus that never came up, I planted a Kent Golding rhizome (keeping my alphabetical order row intact). I’ve heard that these are some of the harder hops to get established, so we’ll see what happens. Following my own advice from my other post, I put it in the same spot but didn’t go as deep and filled it in with all planting soil. It has yet to sprout and I’m starting to lose confidence that it will, but we’ll
In addition to that, I also planted two more Cascade rhizomes at my parents’ cabin in Sullivan County. We have not had good luck trying to grow much other than ivy and trees there, but hops are hearty and Cascade are one of the more resilient types, right? There is a wooden trellis in the front of the cabin that has, as far as I know, always been there and never been used. I planted the first one there. As I began digging, I was worried because the “soil” was mostly rocks. I didn’t have planting soil with me and ended up digging deeper then trying to separate the rocks from the dirt to cover the rhizome. As a result, the trellis is a long way up. I’m not going to be back for quite a while, hopefully it will find its way.
The other rhizome went in what looked like some much better soil next to the shed. There is a wooden fence there with a bird house attached on a higher post. I planted the hops right at the base of the post. I am worried that being on the side of a hill with a shed to another side, this won’t get enough sun, but everything else seems perfect. The fence and the bird post will be perfect for climbing and after digging away a pile of dead leaves, the soils seemed healthy.
I have no idea if these hops will take. I won’t be around to take care of them much in the manner that I described above, but maybe they will figure it out on their own. I’m not expecting much production out of them, but it will be a fun experiment.
As for the hops at home, I’ve read to expect about twice as much production in the second year. I’m hoping to get even more than that, though. The vegetable garden was planned with the hops in mind this year so the later hops, alphabetically, should have a better shot. They are all growing nice plants now, we’ll see how many cones show up. I will post about the harvest in the Fall and maybe give some hop yard news along with my normal batch updates.