Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: khillje on January 07, 2013, 11:54:12 PM

Title: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on January 07, 2013, 11:54:12 PM
Hey there!

So I've recently bought a house with an acre and a half.  Previously I've rented my friends basement where I have 3.5 year old hops growing in his back yard.  This spring, I plan to do some transplanting (and plant a few additional varieties).  This previous (HOT) summer wasn't a great harvest due to the severe drought, but I did notice that the vine that caught the first shade from a nearby tree in late afternoon has always performed better.  I'm wondering what % of sunlight works best for growing hops.  Since I'm starting anew, I want to plant right from the ground up.  Any techniques/tips that can get my brew garden off on the right foot?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: yso191 on January 08, 2013, 04:22:50 PM
I'm no expert, but I took the Hops Academy class in August from J.I. Haas here in Yakima.  What I remember that would apply to your question is that full sunlight (no shade) is the best.  As a consequence, hops also require a lot of water.  The only other thing with sunlight is that hops grow best between 45 and 55 degrees latitude.  This gives long enough Summer days, but it is the shortening of the days in the Fall that trigger hop cone maturation.  So I'm wondering if the shade tricked the plant into thinking it was further North.  Just a thought FWIW.

Steve
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on January 09, 2013, 06:48:45 PM
Thanks for the input!  I'm thinking i didn't water them enough this summer, so the shaded soil was likely retaining more moisture.  I thought I'd heard 100% sunlight before but I wasn't sure.  Now I know!  Has anyone used spent grain to compost (or just spread on the ground) where the hops are growing?  Would this be detrimental in any way?  Also, has anyone used the commercial style of using ropes/twine for the vine to climb?  If so, any pics of your setups?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: tschmidlin on January 09, 2013, 07:11:18 PM
I used to string twine for my hops and cut it down at the end of the season.  I found that much easier than trying to rip the dead bines off of a structure.

"Used to" because I stopped growing hops - sunny spots are at a premium in my yard and it's not worth it for me.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: pinnah on January 10, 2013, 06:13:01 AM
Lots of water, however I think some late afternoon shade is a plus in the dry and hot intermountain west.

I have messed with all kinds of growing techniques.  Twine, pig panels, concrete mesh tubes, rebar, sunflower stalks...hops can grow on lots of things.  Think about ease of harvest if you are going to plant a lot.
 
If you are growing for home use, you don't need anything fancy or 18 foot tall.

I think it better to compost spent grains and then apply compost.  Just my opinion however.

Good luck.  As you plan, remember hops are wicked prolific and can take your life right over. ;)

Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on January 10, 2013, 04:28:25 PM
Thanks!  Yeah, now that it's my own place, I plan to set up a much better (and consistently watered) system.  I'm thinking of a large wooden T cemented into the ground with hooks at the top to tie the twine off that's staked to the ground.  This should hopefully make for an easy harvest.  Now to think of a way to do it that's aesthetically pleasing so I won't catch any flack from the misses! I'd read on a previous post about how to properly use grain in a compost.  I'll probably peruse that too since I plan on planting a garden full of fermentables.  :D
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on February 08, 2013, 05:49:41 PM
So I've been thinking about this a bit further and I've made some crude preliminary sketches.  I think it should be functional and pretty darn cool looking:

1: http://imgur.com/1OE92u0
2: http://imgur.com/q4FPZAZ
3: http://imgur.com/3OuRkiO

Also, I think I'm going to get this little guy to get it going! --> http://arrowheadhops.com/?page_id=213
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: pinnah on February 08, 2013, 06:06:09 PM
So I've been thinking about this a bit further and I've made some crude preliminary sketches.  I think it should be functional and pretty darn cool looking:

1: http://imgur.com/1OE92u0
2: http://imgur.com/q4FPZAZ
3: http://imgur.com/3OuRkiO

Also, I think I'm going to get this little guy to get it going! --> http://arrowheadhops.com/?page_id=213

Hey, nice sketches and pretty structure.

Couple things I might suggest thinking about:

Never plant different varieties close together.  Hops spread via underground rhizomes like mad, especially if you have thin soil.  Plants will soon intermingle, and you will not be able to discern varieties.  I recommend at least 6-8 feet between, and even then, you have to root prune every couple years.

Same goes for the vegetative mass at the top of your proposed arbor...bines will likely mingle causing you potential grief at harvest. 

Have fun planning!
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: gsandel on February 08, 2013, 06:22:33 PM
I am no farmer, but live in Denver, and have overly successful hop harvests.

I don't water much at all except when they were in the first year, but it probably gets a little love from my sprinkler system (overspray).  My spot is on my back fence, and I can harvest from both the yard and the alley side.  I think for mine, the secret to the success is that they get full sun all day (morning on one side of fence, afternoon on other), but the root structure is in the shade most of the day, so it doesn't lose the moisture.

I like them growing, but I don't use enough of them (only two plants, cascade).  Even using copious amounts in a fresh hop IPA and an APA....I still have pounds left.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on February 08, 2013, 06:47:50 PM
So I've been thinking about this a bit further and I've made some crude preliminary sketches.  I think it should be functional and pretty darn cool looking:

1: http://imgur.com/1OE92u0
2: http://imgur.com/q4FPZAZ
3: http://imgur.com/3OuRkiO

Also, I think I'm going to get this little guy to get it going! --> http://arrowheadhops.com/?page_id=213

Hey, nice sketches and pretty structure.

Couple things I might suggest thinking about:

Never plant different varieties close together.  Hops spread via underground rhizomes like mad, especially if you have thin soil.  Plants will soon intermingle, and you will not be able to discern varieties.  I recommend at least 6-8 feet between, and even then, you have to root prune every couple years.

Same goes for the vegetative mass at the top of your proposed arbor...bines will likely mingle causing you potential grief at harvest. 

Have fun planning!

I didn't even think of that!  Thanks!  I think I'll just do two varieties (probably Centennial and Cascade) for this structure then.  3 of one variety on the left and 3 of one on the right.  I am kind of hoping that they'll intertwine and make a "wall" of sorts.  It'll look cool, but you're right,  it will likely be a pain come harvest time!
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on February 08, 2013, 06:55:26 PM
I am no farmer, but live in Denver, and have overly successful hop harvests.

I don't water much at all except when they were in the first year, but it probably gets a little love from my sprinkler system (overspray).  My spot is on my back fence, and I can harvest from both the yard and the alley side.  I think for mine, the secret to the success is that they get full sun all day (morning on one side of fence, afternoon on other), but the root structure is in the shade most of the day, so it doesn't lose the moisture.

I like them growing, but I don't use enough of them (only two plants, cascade).  Even using copious amounts in a fresh hop IPA and an APA....I still have pounds left.

I have had successful harvests w/ my previous plants in the past, but I think we were watering the lawn more those years, so that makes sense.  They also weren't getting 100% sunlight either.  My new plans should be fixing that!  As for the extra hops, I just got a vacuum sealer, so I should be able to extend the live of some of the harvest.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: weithman5 on February 08, 2013, 07:44:58 PM
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7226/7275732016_c0743fffa8.jpg)

This simple frame is on the south side of my house. it is made of four 10foot pieces of 1/2 inch conduit with connectors.  the uprights are placed at an angle in to the ground and bent at top so they will be vertical.  the cross pieces have 90 degree bends to match them.  i just throw twine up to the top and back as needed.  they get pretty decent solid sun on the south side.

gratuititis dog pics

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8153/7386444466_b5ce38f4c3.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7081/7386486716_511fc31143.jpg)



Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on February 08, 2013, 08:39:41 PM
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7226/7275732016_c0743fffa8.jpg)

This simple frame is on the south side of my house. it is made of four 10foot pieces of 1/2 inch conduit with connectors.  the uprights are placed at an angle in to the ground and bent at top so they will be vertical.  the cross pieces have 90 degree bends to match them.  i just throw twine up to the top and back as needed.  they get pretty decent solid sun on the south side.

gratuititis dog pics

(http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8153/7386444466_b5ce38f4c3.jpg)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7081/7386486716_511fc31143.jpg)

That looks great!  I'd imagine the south facing would get plenty of sun.  Those are some beauty dogs too! That structure look about the height that I'm planning on.  I assume that's plenty of room for them? Or would you go higher if possible? Thanks!
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: weithman5 on February 08, 2013, 09:17:49 PM
i would not really go much higher unless it was easy.  the size was determined really by the length of the conduit.  i guy it out with strings to the fence that is out of the picture and to the concrete block that can be seen to the left.  i usually just let the hops grow up over the top and back down and up as needed.  sometimes they grow out the guy lines.  they are all twine and at harvest time i just get my ladder and cut the twine down.  there are three varieties. in order left to right, santiem, magnum, sterling.

thanks about the dogs.  lost the big one to bone cancer,  the little guy is new.  he can still fit on my dashboard.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: mihalybaci on February 08, 2013, 10:26:38 PM
Hey there!

So I've recently bought a house with an acre and a half.  Previously I've rented my friends basement where I have 3.5 year old hops growing in his back yard.  This spring, I plan to do some transplanting (and plant a few additional varieties).  This previous (HOT) summer wasn't a great harvest due to the severe drought, but I did notice that the vine that caught the first shade from a nearby tree in late afternoon has always performed better.  I'm wondering what % of sunlight works best for growing hops.  Since I'm starting anew, I want to plant right from the ground up.  Any techniques/tips that can get my brew garden off on the right foot?

Thanks!

As a fellow Colorado hop grower (Fort Collins), I would probably recommend at least some partial shade in the mid- to late-afternoon to give them a break in the hottest part of the day. Of the four hop plants I have two have a southern exposure with no shade from 7 am to 5 pm during the summer, and two are on the west so they get full sun from noon to about 5-6 pm, and they all did horrible this year. Partly from the heat, drought, and a minor spider mite problem. Spider mites, by the way, thrive in hot, dry conditions (i.e. Colorado), so if you see them, take action fast. Anyway, I think in Colorado some relief from the heat is good. Or as gsandel mentioned, they'd probably do well in full sun provided the ground is partially shaded to prevent too much moisture loss.

Also, of the four varieties I have the two best performers for me have been Cascade and Brewer's Gold. My chinook is okay, but its a few years younger so it isn't as established. I also have a hallertau, but I can tell that it struggles in the heat and I wish I'd planted it in partial shade.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: charliemartel on March 13, 2013, 02:28:48 PM
I wonder if you could simulate the 'shaded ground' thing by applying a thick layer of mulch or hay around the bottom of the vines?
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: morticaixavier on March 13, 2013, 02:37:31 PM
I wonder if you could simulate the 'shaded ground' thing by applying a thick layer of mulch or hay around the bottom of the vines?

you sure could. it would be a good idea. You could use a nice thick layer of well worked compost and it would be even better.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: fmader on March 13, 2013, 02:47:36 PM
I'm not quite sure what the shaded ground technique is, but I would add mulch around the base of your vines anyways. It will allow for moisture retention, and as it begins to decompose, nutrients will be returned to the soil. I usually collect pine needles and put down a layer of them first. Pine needles are acidic, which also promites good hop growth. I then clean out the firewood shed and add the remnants of bark on top. It looks ugly, but effective. I have a picture posted on the "hop growing" child board. Most don't have access to these resources, so pick up a bag of mulch or two.
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: EHall on March 13, 2013, 03:02:50 PM
I've always read that you can grow them between the 35th and 55th parallels... I tried growing in PHX (33rd parallel) for about 5 yrs, had a little success but ultimately not worth it. I found for a region where its hot and dry you need full afternoon sun. So here in PHX they had to be on an East/South facing wall. They always had 3-6" of alfalfa straw mulched on them and they drank alot of water. I also noticed when it got to 105F and above they stop growing. The hardest part for me was getting them to survive over the winter... I either watered them to much or not enough...
Title: Re: Colorado Hop Garden Techniques
Post by: khillje on March 13, 2013, 07:32:06 PM
I'll most definitely have to use the mulching technique.  I've also recently heard that Cascades grow particularly well in Colorado, which is the strain I had growing best (with my theory of the shaded area).  Not sure if there's much merit in this.  I suppose it would make sense that certain breeds work better in certain areas though.