Author Topic: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?  (Read 10961 times)

billvelek

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Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« on: January 23, 2006, 08:46:57 AM »
This past weekend I tilled my garden and am trying to figure out what I'll plant. It's about 5,400 square feet (1/8th acre), so I have plenty of room to do whatever I want; I could expand it even more if necessary. I still have 25 gallons of watermelon juice in my freezer because I haven't had the time to make my wine yet (too many things preoccupying me). Anyway, with my family becoming smaller (6 kids moved out and only 2 left), and tiring of canning and freezing so much, and my youngest son becoming less interested in selling produce for his spending money, I've been thinking of doing something different and planting either some grape vines or hop plants, or maybe both. I've never grown either one, but I've usually done very well with gardening with other things.

I've only made a few batches of wine over the years, but have brewed quite a few batches of beer over the past 8 to 10 years, and am now doing all grain. I've been planning my dream 'HERMS' system, too, so I've been much more partial to beer than wine -- although I wouldn't mind delving much more deeply into that, as well. Of course, neither one depends upon my garden, so whatever I choose to do won't really limit my options, but inasmuch as plantings of this sort are long-term investments -- taking a few years to mature -- I'm seeking a little advice before I make that sort of commitment. I've done some research on the Internet about growing hops, but haven't found the sort of answers or advice I'm seeking. I guess what I'm looking for is something like a poll or consensus as to whether growing hops is worth the trouble. When I compare it to growing vegetables, I can easily answer that for all the trouble, our vegetables taste better than commercial produce, and save us a pile of money. Regarding hops, from what I've read the taste doesn't seem to be a factor and in fact is problematic when trying to follow a recipe because of the variation in bittering units. Storage also seems to be much more of a problem than produce. I also wonder about the amount of work that goes into growing, harvesting, drying, and storing hops; I don't mind spending lots of time picking produce, but I'm wondering about having to use a ladder to pick hops -- or is there an easier way. I guess what I'm asking is how many folks have grown their own hops, only to eventually quit because they decided that it really isn't worth the effort? I don't know ... maybe the only way to tell is to try it myself.

Finally, I haven't read anything yet about compatibility with other plants; i.e., if I plant some hop bines in my garden, should I avoid proximity with any other plants in particular?

Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Cheers, Bill Velek
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Shakey_Dog

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2006, 10:20:57 AM »
To be honest I did not read your entire post.  It is just too long and I am lazy ;D.

Yes it is worth it.  It is fun.  I have only used them for dry hoping as you wont know the bittering unless you get them tested.

Plus it is fun to see the neighbors.  What the hell are you growing.  I just say nothing cough, and ask them if they like to smoke. :o  Kidding.

It is cheap.  I think I paid 4 bucks per plant last year.

Don

billvelek

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2006, 12:27:56 PM »
I recently posted in a number of different brewing forums trying to find out whether growing hops at home is worthwhile.  I'm sorry that I was a bit late in responding to many posts, and some I just never got around to at all.  That might have seemed rude and unappreciative on my part, so I want to explain that I have had many things to deal with lately, including my wife having surgery to remove a tumor and part of her thyroid, so she has been at home recouperating.  We just received the lab report on the biopsy late last week, and THANK GOD it was benign.  Now I'll be able to pay more attention to my posts, and to brewing beer and making wine; right now I'm thawing out a 5-gallon bucket of frozen juice, and I'm going to take an inventory of my beer supplies later.  At this time, I want to thank all of our brewing friends for their prayers and supportive emails.

Anyway, from the various replies that I've received, I've determined that hops can, indeed, grow in Arkansas, but that I shouldn't put them in my garden, and I need to keep them away from my tomatoes due to wilt.  The majority of people reported that hops are easy to grow and make a BIG difference in the quality of homebrew.  I've picked a nice spot in my yard that should work, am getting ready to order my rhizomes, and am planning a trellis of sorts.  That is what I am writing about now -- to see what folks think of this idea.  Instead of using a pulley which could jam from the bines, my thoughts are of using a removable lock-pin at the base of each pole, to be able to just swivel the pole down to a horizontal position.  Until I drop it down to harvest the hops cones, I will also use cable and stakes for guidelines to help support it against the wind.  Does anyone think that will work?  Thanks for any advice.

Beautiful day today; just finished tilling up the spot I've picked for my hops, and I've just cracked open a bottle of homebrew. :-)  HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

Cheers, Bill Velek
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Sirjohn

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2006, 06:33:14 PM »
Hello Bill,

New here so I thought I'd start off asking you how the Hops crop is going. What is the time frame to grow and the procedures for planting? I was really surprise to not see more folks asking about this. Thanks,

John

Rookie

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2006, 09:06:47 AM »
   I have an unused clothes line in my backyard that I train my hops to grow along. This way I don't need a ladder to see if they are ready to harvest and then to harvest.

billvelek

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New Yahoo Group is exclusively about growing hops
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 12:52:37 AM »
This is my first year to grow hops, and it has been difficult to find answers to some of my questions on the various brewing forums because it appears that only a small percentage of homebrewers grow their own hops. Instead of having to tediously search through lengthy archives or a large number of threads in forty or fifty different homebrew forums and mailing lists, I felt it would be better to try to gather as many growers as possible for a consolidated mail-list or group dedicated _exclusively_ to the topic of growing hops, including trellis and arbor design, diseases, and even exchanges of rhizomes.  I've received nothing but positive feedback in all the places I've posted about this, and I hope that this will be received in the same spirit here because my group is certainly not intended to replace any other group.  In just the first three days after my group was formed, I had already reached 60 members. Members can choose to hide their email addresses if they want; however, those members who do so must post messages on our webpage rather than by email.  I am also moderating the group to prevent spam, flames, etc.

I'm looking for informative websites about all aspects of growing hops, including photos, so if anyone can recommend any good links, it will be appreciated.  Members are also able to post their own links, photos, and files on our group's Yahoo pages.

If interested, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/grow-hops -- and thanks for your time.

Cheers.

Bill Velek

Offline Andrewqld

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2007, 12:05:33 AM »
Bill,
I have grown hops over a 4 year period and have finally decided to stop. Unless you grow Flavour/aroma hops exclusively I can't see the point of doing it. Bittering hops are too unpredictable as far as their AA contributions are concerned so they should not be grown privately.
My reasons for stopping were based soley on the styles of beers I brew, high IBU beers, and the majority of hops I use I needed to know the AA levels, something you can't do if growing your own.
Growing your own flavour/aroma hops is very rewarding, but if you want bittering then buy your hops for the accurate AA measurements.

Cheers
Andrew

billvelek

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2007, 02:59:57 AM »
Yes, I can see what you mean.  I guess Centernnial and Magnum were not good choices because they are high AA%, but at least I have 6 Cascade.  The Canadian Red Vine (freebies) are STILL not up, so I guess they've 'bit the dust' which will give me room for better choices next year.  I'm hoping that I can trade rhizomes.  The nice rhizomes that were sent to me by a homebrewer are going like gangbusters; the ones I paid for from Freshops are pathetic in comparison and I'm very disappointed.  I would have thought it would be the opposite.

Cheers.

Bill Velek

ddwbrew01

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Re: Growing Hops -- is it worth the effort?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2007, 09:05:36 PM »
In an earlier post, billvelek mentioned tomatoes and hops don't mix.  I recently moved my hops from the old house to my new house.  I have a much smaller garden so I planted tomatoes in close proximity to the hops.  Oops... that's what I get for not researching.  Which will wilt... the tomatoes or the hops?

P.S.  They both seem do be doing fine so far, but I till keep you posted.

 

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