The First Year in Minnesota
They need good air circulation in order to prevent diseases, and as much sunlight as they can get.
I received two Cascades rhizomes from Steve Piatz, as his were growing out of control and he had to trim them back. I took them home and placed them into the fridge until I could buy something for them to grow on. I purchased a seven foot tall windmill at Fleet Farm for the hops to have something to grow up. I planted the hops vertical (incorrectly) rather than horizontally.
My wife insisted on planting the petunas between the hops plants. Hop plants thrive on moist, rich soil with a pH around seven (between five and eight should be okay).
The Second Year in Minnesota
The Third Year in Minnesota
My first attempt at growing hops I clipped the bines back to only one per twine to grow up. By last year I trained a few bines per twine. This year (2008) I just let nature take it's course and grow as wild as it wants to grow. They result it hop bines growing up the twine, up the metal base of the windmill, twirling and climbing up other bines. By early June the longest bine was about 4 feet past the top of the windmill. I'm trying to loop it back down so it can grow up the windmill again.
I'm expecting a bumper crop of hops this year. I plan to brew up an ale and wet-hop it. Yes, I'll have the boil going and pick hops as needed. I've read you need about 7 times the hops in weight due to the hops still having lots of water in them. Hops contain about 60% moisture when they are first picked. A few years back I had the opportunity to have a couple pints of Bert Grant's Wet Hop Ale. It wasn't the hoppiest beer, but you could taste the freshness, and it was extraordinary.
I finally decided to trim down the leaves on the first 18 inches of the hops bines to prevent fungus and other diseases from developing and to improving air circulation.
Without the windmill fan, the hops grew like crazy and didn't get chopped back by the blades.
Looks like plenty of hop flowers starting to grow (picture taken 7/20/2008).
By mid summer the hops had completly taken over the top of the windmill, and it resembles a bush growing on the top of it. I harvested the hops near the end of August and made a wet-hopped American Pale Ale. It sat a little long in the primary, icking up some bready yeast notes, but otherwise was very fresh and hoppy tasting without going overboard!
Hop Growing >