I can't find the recipe anymore. The link to the recipe at www.ipass.net/mpdixon is no longer valid!
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US-05 throws off a lot of peach esters which could work well for an apricot beer. Of course, it is very attenuative, so you would have to mash very hot if you used it.
Dried apricots are pretty easy to get. The ones from Costco are astonishingly good. Dried apricots would have less of a nucleation point issue, I assume. I don't know how well they would work flavor-wise relative to puree.
Anyway, I was thinking of making an apricot (dried) or peach (fresh) wheat ale this summer so let me know how things go.
I know at the time I shy'd away from dried fruit because a lot of it is sulphited and I thought that would screw up the bottle conditioning. Not sure if it would matter for kegging but it's a factor to consider with dried fruit from what I understand.
I'm no expert on soil. Hops are like weeds. They'll grow very well in pretty much any kind of soil. They love nitrogen. Look for fertilizers like 10-0-0 or 20-0-0 or something like that.