I'm thrilled by the progress my hop garden has achieved in the last month! I already have three plants that have grown a few feet past the length of the trellis (which goes up to my 2nd floor). This growth pace is well beyond where I was this time last year. Even my perennially underachieving Willamette is looking like a champ this season!
I believe a few factors are driving this growth. First, the plants are more mature. Second, I improved the soil in fall. Finally, I left the bines up for quite a while in the fall before I cut them down. This was intended to give the plants an opportunity to produce and send more energy down to the roots. I think it worked. Weather is surely a factor, but last May was actually sunnier (according to my solar array's output, anyway). I think I could all of these factors would make an informative Design of Experiments. I'll ponder this a bit more.
I recently learned about "bull shoots." These are the first sprouting bines. They're purplish in color, grow aggressively, are hollow, and are said to produce fewer sidearms and hops. Strangely enough, this is the first I've heard of them. They should be cut down as they sprout, in favor of the secondary shoots. I followed this advice for one of my plants. I'll see how that works out.
In an other interesting note, the bine thickness of the Zeus I planted in the ground (all of my other plants are in containers) dwarfs my other plants. In the shot below you can see the thin twine thats supporting the bines to the far right. Next, you can see the purple-ish Zeus bine, next to two other thinner bines. All three are first growth bull shoots.
Finally, it looks like two of my plants (last picture) have some sort of malady. If anyone knows what it is, or thoughts on how to resolve, I would appreciate some advice! Happy hop growing!
|Variation in bine thickness|