March 18, 2011

Hop Projects

Hops (Hululus lupulus) hold a special place in our garden. Brian is a home brewer, and we both love our beer! Growing hops is one of the rare opportunities to combine two passions for us. We have grown them in our garden for 2 seasons now, and were needing to expand our trellis system, thus the hop project began with cedar timbers, some free ground, and a shovel.

Most of the hops grown in the US are from the Willamette Valley in Washington, with Oregon and Idaho being the other major producers. However, with the recent microbrewery craze people have started looking for local sources, and a few hop farms popped up in Western NC. There is little known about hop production in the state, and we are interested in trying out different varieties to see what does best. We use what we grow in our brews, but never get much of a harvest here in Eastern NC. Our summers are too wet for their liking, and the shorter daylight hours mean a late harvest. In the spring we dig and split the some of the rhizomes and pot them up in the greenhouse. Maybe one day we will have enough rhizomes to trade or sell.

We use a grape trellis for support for hops in our vegetable bed (see surviving vegetables post), but we wanted something more fit for the hops twining habit. This area used to have a mature dogwood and pink azaleas. The dogwood died last summer, our neighbor told us the older couple living in our house had left a whole bag of fertilizer to leak on the base. With the dogwood gone, the azaleas get too much sun so we took them out too, and have a big space for projects. For the arbor here we went with the traditional tee-pee style, it reminds me of a Maypole. Brian dug 2-foot deep holes to anchor in the 3- 10 foot cedar timbers. Its a easy design, upright posts with string strung from a stake in the ground to a screw in the top. I will note at this point that I mostly watched, or as I like to call it "supervised", and took pictures.

 The birdhouses give it a little interest... although they might be a little close together to get many birds nesting. The three poles each have a different cultivar. We have Humulus lupulus 'Mt. Hood', 'Chinook', and 'Willamette'. On the other trellis (in the veggie bed) we have 'Centennial'. 
Next update: Harvest Time!


"A mouth of a perfectly happy man is filled with beer." ~Ancient Egyptian Wisdom, 2200 B.C.


  1. How large will a newly-planted hop plant grow? I've been thinking about giving hops a try and it's hard to find information about first-year plants.

  2. Alan, I would say 15ft of growth is typical for the first year (from a certified rhizome or small plant), and 25 ft for subsequent years. Once it gets to 15-20 ft it usually starts sending out more lateral branches. Ive seen people grow them on all kinds of things with success.. from 8ft fences to a 25ft rope from the roof of a house to the ground.

  3. Do not know much about growing hops, so that I will not speak. I will say however, that the poles of the houses and bird hops WILL beautiful. Yours

  4. Lisa, Just a couple of days ago I had read about hops! Looked interesting. The shoots are edible like asparagus, not that I have ever met a hops. Here is a link I found: The leaves look something like raspberries. George

  5. I love the little birdhouses on the end of the poles. There is a hop plant with gold leaves that is sold as an ornamental vine. I have always wanted one.


Thanks for taking a walk in our garden.
Your comments are always appreciated.