Home Hop Garden '18: April Update

The hop growing season is in full swing! There's been quite a bit of progress since my March hop garden update. I finally got around to rigging up my trellises last weekend. The pictures below show the "before" state.  The bines had grown long and intertwined with each other. Unlocking them required a delicate and patient touch. Unfortunately, I broke several long bines in the process. Next year, I'll get the trellises up sooner and avoid this problem.

Below is the "after" shot. It looks more orderly and the bines are dutifully climbing upward! We had a three-day stretch in the 80°s last week  It's amazing how growth kicks in during the heat.  I think each plant put on at least 4-8" in height in just a few days!

In a surprising turn of events, my laggard Willamette plant is currently the tallest at around 86". I was (and still am) considering trashing it after last year's abysmal performance (it produced just 1 hop cone). Maybe it developed a sense of urgency.  Next tallest is my Chinook at around 77".

Soil drainage is very poor in my sideyard, so I plant all of my hops in pots. I did experiment by planting one Zeus in the ground last spring. I didn't think it would survive the winter, but it did. It's hard to tell, but you can see it in the picture on the lower left. The width of the bine is unusual--it's probably 3x as thick as all of the others (including my other Zeus plants). Maybe it gets more nourishment from the ground? I'll keep a close eye on on this plant throughout the season.

Finally, in the picture on the lower right, you can see may small bines emerging. During the past week, I've been busy pulling these out. The reason behind this is we want the plant's energy to nourish fewer bines (we're hoping for a few tall bines, rather than many short bushy bines).

So far, so good. There's no sign of mildew or rot. We'll see you in a month!  How's your hop garden progressing?

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