How To Grow Hops at Home

Why Grow Hops at Home?

Over the past few years, I have noticed that home brewing is becoming a more popular hobby, which is great.  Just like many other hobbies, as your skills progress, it is only natural to want to spread your knowledge, your skillset and have more control over as many factors as possible.  One of those factors is the hops. Learning How To Grow Hops at Home is a great way to add to the fun of home brewing. The only negative to growing hops at home is that you will not know the exact Alpha Acid of the hops.  There are three things that you can do about this.   One, go online and find the average Alpha Acid of the hop variety you have grown.  Two, spend a lot of money and send them to a lab specially designed to test for this.  Or three, you can follow the steps on MoreBeer Forum.  I stick to the simplest method, and just used the average Alpha Acid.  I also recommend doing a batch with your fresh hops.  Most of the hops will need to be packaged and frozen, but do at least one batch with the fresh hops.  There is something special about fresh hops; the flavor and aroma are hard to beat.

 

When to Order and Grow Hops?

The ideal time to plant hops in in late Spring, in March or April.  This is the time the freezing temperatures have past but it is still cool enough outside to give the hops a chance to grow before the heat of summer.  This is the same time that most shops begin to sell their Hop Rhizomes.  Some stores, such as MoreBeer have a pre-sale that begins in February.  I live in Northern California and I tend to plant my hops around mid-March.

 

Where to Grow Hops?

The hops need plenty of sun, the more the better.   The only time this is not true is when they are first planted.  New growth can be burned and destroyed by too much sun.  Once the hops have taken root and begin grow, it is hard to give them too much sun.  Start the hops in a place that gets a few hours of sun a day.  Once they are around 4-6 inches in length, place them where they get the most sun possible.  Southern exposure is the best; East and West exposure will work as well.

How to Grow Hops?

One of the hardest parts about learning How To Grow Hops at Home, is learning how plant your hops. Many people plant hops in the ground, but I prefer to plant them in a planter box for mobility. Find a planter box with holes in the bottom, or drill your own holes.  Drainage is important.  Use a mixture of top soil and manure for the hop soil.  My hops grow in a mixture of around 9 to 1, top soil to manure.  Just enough manure to fertilize the soil and give the hops the nutrients needed to grow strong.  Water carefully.  All plants need water to grow, but hops are very sensitive to over watering.  This is one reason why drainage is so important.  I only water when the hops or the soil look a little dry.   Very rarely do they get watered more than twice a week unless it is extremely hot outside.  The best method for watering is to wait until the soil is dry, then soak the soil.  Keep only the strongest 2-3 vines per hop rhizome.  Too many vines will slow the growth of the overall plant.

 

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Buy equipment (what I used)
  1. Drill holes in bottom of planter.  Drainage is one of the most important aspects of growing hops, so make sure the planter drains properly.  This isn’t the prettiest tactic, but it is free and the planters were cheap.

Hop Planter

 

  1. Fill the planter ¼ full with the top soil then sprinkle about a ½ inch layer of manure on top of that.  Get your hands in the mix and fluff up your new mixture.  Loose soil is important. Repeat this 2 more times until the planter is roughly ¾ full. (pic is a little dark, was a late night)

Hop Planter with Soil

  1. Dig a 4” hole in your new soil mixture, place the hop rhizome in the hole.  If the rhizome is beginning to sprout, face that side up.  Cover the rhizome with loose soil and place then planter somewhere where it will get a few hours of light a day.
  1. Time to dig!  I recommend a hole 18-24” deep and 6-8” wide.  This may seem like a fairly large hole for such a simple tree stake but the hop vines will get heavy and you will want the stake secure.  Place the stake in the hole and compact all the dirt that was just dug up, around the stake.  If you have extra dirt, use that too.

 

Hole for Hop Stake

 

 

 

 

Hole for Hop Stake 2

 

 

(Compacted Dirt Pic to Come Soon)

 

  1. Screw two eye bolts into each stake, and one wherever you plan to secure the other end of the rope too.  I used my roof.  Drill a hole slightly smaller than the eye hook to make screwing it easier.  Then use a screwdriver to get the eye hook secure.

Hop Stake Eye Bolt 1

(Bottom Eye Bolt Pic to Come Soon)

(Roof bolt Pic to Come Soon)

 

  1. String the twine.  Secure one end of the twine to the bottom eye bolt in the tree stake, run it up to the top eye bolt, then secure it to the other mounting hook.

Hop Trellis Side

  1. When the hops are 4-6 inches long. Place them at the base of your new trestle system.

(I realize there are no hops in the pic, it was taken for reference purpose before the hops grew)

Hop Trellis Front

  1. Once the hops are long enough to reach from the planter to the trellis, wrap the vine in a clockwise direction around the twine.  It will take a week or two to train the hops to grow around the twine.  Until then keep an eye on the vines, and manually wrap the vine in a clockwise motion around the twine.

 

Get out there and learn

How To Grow Hops at Home now!

 

Progress Pics

(3 weeks)

2014-5-1, Week 3 Hop Growth

2014-5-1, Week 3 Hop Growth Close Up 2

(6 weeks)

(Updates to Come Soon) 


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