Hops are one of the most popular beer varieties. They have been grown since ancient times. Hop plants are very productive and they produce large amounts of flowers each season. However, it is not always easy to keep them healthy and vigorous enough to make good beer without some care and attention. There are many types of hops available today, but only two main types – Cascade and Chinook – account for 95% of all hops used in brewing today (1). Both of these hops are hardy and adaptable; however, the best varieties are those with high alpha acids content. These are the kinds that give beers their distinctive flavor and aroma.
The first step in growing hops is selecting a location where you want to plant your hops. You will need to decide which variety of hop you would like to use for your brews. Selecting the right variety is critical because it determines what kind of growth habit you will get from your hops. Some varieties are fast growers, while others take longer to reach maturity.
In order to determine which type of hop you should choose, you must look at its appearance and taste characteristics. Look for a variety that produces large clusters of flowers in late summer or early fall when the weather warms up. You should also choose varieties that have a strong smell and taste.
After you have selected your hop varieties, you are ready to start building your hops support system. There are two types of systems that can be used for growing hops – trellis and cable. You should select the one that best meets your needs and is appropriate for your garden setting. The trellis system uses string or wire to support the hop vine as it grows. The hops plant grows up the trellis, much like a grape vine on a trellis.
This is one of the easiest methods to grow quality hops because all you need to do is build a strong and stable trellis and then plant your seeds or rhizome on top of it. The cable system uses wire cables strung between poles, posts or trees to support the weight of the hop vines.
Hops plants need lots of water and nutrients in the soil, so you should make sure the soil you are planning to use is rich in nutrients. You can add additional fertilizer if you think the soil lacks nutrients.
Before planting your hops rhizome, soak it in a bucket of water for about an hour before planting. This will help the roots become stronger and more adaptable to transplanting. Plant the rhizome into your prepared garden area, covering with about an inch of soil. When planting your plants, space them three feet apart so there is plenty of room for growth and development.
You need to trim back the bine (vines) when they are about 2 feet long. This will cause the plant to branch out and produce more flowers. If you leave the bine longer than 2 feet, it will become very heavy and possibly damage the branches. If any of the bines fall to the ground, they may take root and produce a new plant.
Hops need lots of sunshine and fresh air circulation so they grow up strong and healthy. Keep the garden free of weeds and keep the hop bines free of disease and pests. It is also necessary to train the bines up your trellis or along your cables. Hops plants will mature within three to four months after planting. Most people will pick hops every two weeks from July to September, some varieties will give a third pick in October.
When cutting your mature bines down, you can dry them and then store them until spring or you can immediately make them into into fresh or dried hop beer. Remember, never use any chemicals or pesticides since they will be ingested with each sip of beer.
The best way to dry your hops is to cut the bines down early and then hang them in a dark place where there is good ventilation. You can also dry them with a dehydrator or use the oven. Your hops will be ready when they are crisp and crumble easily between your fingers. As soon as they are dry, store them in airtight containers.
High quality homegrown hops will provide your favorite beer with a unique and outstanding flavor. Your friends and family will love the taste of your home-brewed beer if you use top quality homegrown hops.
Hemp is probably the most profitable and easiest crop to grow. It can be grown in almost any climate or conditions, and it has a multitude of uses. It can be used to produce high quality food, medicine, cloth, rope, oil, fuel and much more. In short it is a very versatile and useful crop. It is unfortunate that industrial hemp is illegal to grow in most western countries.
Hemp is the same species as marijuana, but it contains little to no THC (the compound that gets you ‘high’). It is impossible to get ‘high’ by smoking hemp. In fact it is not even possible to determine whether a substance is hemp or marijuana until after it has been processed.
When growing industrial hemp you are allowed to have a small amount of THC (legal limit is 0.2%). The ‘smoking hemp’ available at head shops is usually quite a bit stronger than this. In fact the only time you will really find THC in industrial hemp is when it has been deliberately injected into the plant. This is rare and nowadays industrial hemp is preferred over marijuana for many uses, so there is no need to increase its strength.
There are three types of industrial hemp:
1. Cannabis sativa
2. Cannabis indica
3. Cannabis ruderalis
Cannabis sativa is the most common type of hemp. It is grown all over the world and contains little THC. It grows Tall and thin and is not very suitable for weaving. It produces less fiber and more seed, it also has a smaller fibber size than the others. It mainly grows in dry areas such as Australia, China, Europe, Canada, Korea and USA.
Cannabis Indica grows shorter and bushier than cannabis sativa. It has larger and denser flowers, it also grows tighter knots. It prefers colder weather and can grow almost anywhere. It is the main type of hemp grown in Russia, Korea, China, Eastern Europe and Canada.
Cannabis ruderalis is the smallest of the hemp types. It grows quickly, produces a lot of leaves and flowers. It prefers cooler weather and grows almost everywhere.
Hemp can be grown from seeds but the best way to grow it is by clones. Clones produce better quality hemp and are easier to handle. They also take less time to grow. To make a clone cut off a branch about 3-5 inches long from a young vigorously growing plant. Strip off the leaves and pollen collects on the inside of the branch.
Cut off the excess and place the cut end in a glass of water. It is usually ready to plant in soil after 2-3 days.
Before planting it is a good idea to soak the clone in a bucket of water mixed with a small amount of superphosphate for 12 hours before planting. This helps harden the outside which makes it easier to plant and increases its survival rate.
The best type of soil to grow hemp in is a sandy soil with a high content of humus and nutrients. It is better to avoid using artificial nitrogen fertilizers as this causes the plants to grow too quickly and may make the stems and stalks weak. The soil also needs to be well drained as hemp doesn’t like wet feet. Hemp plants can grow well in many different types of soil, but it takes time for the plants to become established.
Hemp is usually planted in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. The best time to plant is usually May or June, but it is possible to plant in the fall. It is a good idea to use a bean crop as this will help add nitrogen into the soil. The following spring you can then harvest and replant the same area right away.
The best way to grow hemp is using the single stem method. This involves growing only one plant to maturity while all the other flowers and branches are removed as they appear. This forces all the nutrients and energy into the one main stem which is very strong and produces more fiber. Although this takes longer it produces higher quality hemp.
The height that hemp grows to is determined by how much light it gets and the quality of the soil and can range from 3-15 feet. Most commercial hemp is grown between 10-12 feet tall. The taller the plant, the stronger but shorter the fiber.
When growing hemp it is good to keep in mind that it has a large appetite. It needs lots of water and nutrients. It also produces a large amount of seed which are very nutritious and have many uses. It is also illegal to grow cannabis with it’s seeds in many places so make sure you remove them if you want to follow the law.
Hemp is ready for harvest any time after the leaves have dropped off the plant. The best time is right before the next set of leaves grow so that the plant hasn’t had time to degenerate. Cut down the entire plant, stems and all, as close to the base as possible, leaving no leaf or flower buds.
After cutting it is important to dry as quickly as possible to prevent rot setting in. It is best to hang the entire plant upside down so that it can be monitored and any bugs or mold can be taken care of quickly. It is important to keep it dry during the drying process. The leaves and branches can be stripped off after it is dry.
Hemp dries relatively quickly, even in humid weather, as long as the leaves and flowers are stripped off first, leaving just the stalks. The entire process from cutting to dry takes about a month during the summer.
Once the leaves and flowers have been stripped off it can be baled for storage. To do this simply fold the stems over once or twice lengthways then twist the tops to prevent them from opening back up and tie them together. The fibers in the stalks bond very strongly meaning that it is very hard to tear a full bale apart when ready to use again.
Hemp can also be processed into fiber while still green. This needs to be done quickly and correctly as the plant begins to break down quickly once harvested. The entire process from cutting to final fiber takes about a week.
The stems need to be soaked and crushed to release the fibers before they can be spun into thread. This can be done using a wooden brake in the traditional way or using a hand cranked machine. The wooden brake works by pounding the stems with wooden clubs to break them down then squeezing the water out with a wooden press.
Sources & references used in this article:
Control of downy mildew of hops. by CB Skotland, DA Johnson – Plant disease, 1983 – apsnet.org
Association of spring pruning practices with severity of powdery mildew and downy mildew on hop by DH Gent, ME Nelson, GG Grove, WF Mahaffee… – Plant …, 2012 – Am Phytopath Society
Risk Factors for Bud Perennation of Podosphaera macularis on Hop by DH Gent, WF Mahaffee, WW Turechek… – …, 2019 – Am Phytopath Society
Factors of Intensification in the Hops Cluster of Chuvashia. by AI Zakharov, OV Evgrafov, DA Zakharov… – International Journal of …, 2016 – ERIC