Brewing Horticulture

Homegrown Hops!

We got some rhizomes from MoreBeer! last year to see what its like to grow hops.

We had tremendous success our first year growing cascade hops. We had two more varieties initially but the rhizomes died and we ended up propagating two cuttings from the surviving  cascade plant. Hop plants seem to be pretty easy to propagate from cuttings without an auxin treatment. I knew going into the process that layering is traditionally used in hop propagation but wanted to solve the issue quickly. Within a week the two submerged cuttings had grown roots without the use of any special techniques.
As for the containers and media we decided to use half barrel planters as containers to try to prevent the plants from getting out of control and filled it with a custom organic container mix designed for Cannabaceae in general. We also mulched the containers with rice hulls to prevent weed seeds from germinating as well as to minimize water loss due to evaporation. During the first year of growth we trained as many bines as the plant could produce to encourage a healthy root mass so that the plant would survive its forced dormancy.
We dried the hops using a box fan set to low attached to a mesh bin designed for drying Cannabis. They system worked very well and only took a couple of days for the hops to dry. I think the final weigh-in was around 3 oz.
It is now the second year and the bines are already halfway up their lines. Last week we fertilized and trained a single bine per plant as recommended in literature we found online. We’ve had a bit of a brewing hiatus due to time constraints with school and work so we have yet to brew a batch with our home grown hops from last year but they will be used in the next batch we brew. They have been in the freezer the whole time so hopefully they’ll still be good.