Well, as you already know, we’ve been experimenting with different hop growing techniques. Each year I’ve tried to make it easier for myself by incorporating new ways to grow them, but the hops are training me more than I’m able to train them. We’ve attempted growing them at an angle only to discover they need at least a 45* angle or higher to climb. Low water and lack of nutrients in the soil can cause small or poorly formed hops and this year is no exception. This is probably why hop-staving was so popular in medieval times.
We shortened the height a little bit and it has some interesting results. Although the poles only went about 10 ft into the air, it seemed like the hops liked it and clung to the top of the trellis.
It was interesting to see how most of the hop growth was right near the top and they bunched up like grapes. They weren’t as big as usual though. The leaves were heartier and tended to not be eaten by powder mold and aphids as in years past. I was very dilligent about the trimming on the bottom of the vines up to 2 ft. Water was applied regularly to the roots along with a mixture of old chicken manure I had from last years chickens. There were no yellow pale leaves and the green was very strong. It showed in the hops leaves too:
As you can see, a little water and fertilizer doubled our bounty quite easily. We want to try and get it back to the old level so we’ll probably build a taller trellis and heavily fertilize the ground with more chicken stuff, fresh dirt and whatever else it will take to bring production levels back up to what they were before.
The garden area is going to be undergoing a major upgrade. We’re actually tripling the size of the area, and with that we’ll be trucking in some fresh dirt and fencing the whole thing in from deer and rodents.
This was a particularly good year because we had a great quantity of sun, fertilizer and rain in moderate amounts. Last year’s drought and the loss of the water pump to the house didn’t help the situation. Going forward we should be able to increase our output of Tetnanger Hops.
Until next time.