Happy 4th of July,
As I sit here contemplating my next beer, my eyes veer over to the trellis where my hops reside. This year I tried something a little different. Instead of going straight up 20 to 25 feet, I tried to see what the effects would be if we went horizontal. Check this out.
That video is about a month old, and here’s where we stand now:
As you can see the plants are happy to go straight up and have had several creepers attempt to keep going. They even wrap around each other for additional stability in their upward mobility. Each one had to be redirected and “learned” onto the wire, where they still had an inclination to go up or sideways to another string instead of initially following the wire they were set on.
There was much more attention to detail on my part because for several days I would have to go out and check where each of the vines was going. In some cases, unwrapping and re-directing them onto the proper wire or direction.
In another week I’m going to start trimming all the leaves off the plants from the ground up to about a 2ft height. As in years past the vines will “bolt” which is the side runners which come off the vines. This may cause the wires to become a mesh but we’ll see what happens.
Along with trimming comes the day to day maintenance of keeping the hops as close to organic as possible. No pesticides, no artificial fertilizers and lots of water. Lack of water and nitrogen can cause leaves to turn yellow or brownish. Because these are the lower leaves, it’s not such a big deal but a slurry of chicken manure and water, left for 24 hrs and then stirred can be poured onto the roots to help eliminate these problems.
Why bother? Well a couple of reasons. First, it’s less effort to suspend wires across then up in the air. In years past the 20 ft poles have crashed down after a storm and damaged the hops. It’s also been a battle to get them back up when the ground has the consistency of cooked oatmeal. Lots of ropes and guide lines to get them back into place.
Second, i am now able to closely inspect the hops at the top of the vine as well as the bottom. I can now spray a pepper sauce mixed with water on the leaves to deter bugs.
I’m also hoping that seperating the individual runners to harvest the hops will be easier. That remains to be seen.
So as you enjoy your 4th, think about the effort put into just the hops that make your beer possible.