I share a community plot with my friend Mitch who is a big home brewer. When he offered to share his plot it was under the condition that I would not harm the nine hop plants he was growing in the plot. He is growing Chinook, Cascade, and a few other varieties. The prior year’s set up didn’t work very well for the space. Since time and money was an issue we did some research and found an inexpensive and more efficient way to grow the hops.
Hops are the clusters of flowers from female plants know as Humulus lupulus. They require full sun, good drainage, and a tall support to grow on. They are a perennial and they appear in the spring and grow furiously throughout the season. I would suggest purchasing rhizomes that are known to be female since male plants will not produce the flowers. The older the hope plants the better the yield. The plot currently has hops that are either two to threes years old. The three year old plants are more than twice the size as the younger ones.
One of the things I didn’t realize is how much their roots spread. As you can see in this photo they are starting to to crowd my onions. If you are planting for the first time I would use a root barrier or plant in an area that you don’t mind them spreading.
Our trellis system consists of an eight foot 4X4 with an attached an eyelet at the top. A rope is anchored at the bottom and runs all the way to the top of the pole and through the eyelet. The vines grow up the rope until they reach the top of the pole. The trellis was created to be adjustable so as the vine grows closer to the top you can lower the rope and let the plant pool at the bottom. We did this initially but the vine grew faster than we could keep adjusting the rope. If your growing in your yard you can do something similar by running the rope from the ground to your roofline. The hops should continue to grow until the end of the summer and will die back after the first frost.
Basic Brewing Podcast– This is a really informative podcast I watch on Itunes.
Growing hops in containers with an adjustable trellis. This is where I stole the idea for our hop trellis he explains it at 4.13.
Hop Harvest video, this gardener who grew hops along his two story home. Check out this video at the 3.22 mark.
The Merry Growlers of Davis have documented their hop growing at another community garden. If you have the time and the space this is a great system.
Where to buy hop plants: