Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Hop rhizomes planted

My hop rhizomes arrived from Midwest Supplies earlier this month. I picked up some moo-nure and mixed it with some spent-grains (from the Amber 1.0 batch), dug some holes and got ’em in the ground on 4/10/11.

I planted the following hop varieties, one rhizome of each:

  • Northern Brewer
  • Cascade
  • Hallertau
  • Chinook
  • Centennial

It reached nearly 70 degrees in Minneapolis on the day I planted, but the weather since then has not been so kind. It actually snowed a few days ago and has been getting into the mid-30’s overnight most nights. I think I’m ok though, as I’ve read the hop rhizomes can withstand temps down to 20* F without dying. I bought some burlap to cover up the mounds before the snow, so hopefully that has offered some additional protection. As long as we don’t get below 20 degrees overnight, I think I’ll be OK. From what I understand, the earlier you get these in the ground, the better.

I actually noticed a little sprout last weekend on the Northern Brewer plant, though saw it had been nibbled off a few days later, likely by one of the many rabbits in the hood. It’ll come back soon enough. I’ll have to put up some protective fencing this weekend. Also, I’ll need to put some posts in the ground and develop a trellis system in the coming weeks. I have a plan in mind that should allow the bines to grow six feet in the air and another five lateral feet across, while not becoming too much of a monstrosity in my little backyard.

The uniform message I’ve received about the first growing season for a hop plant is that it’s merely an investment, an opportunity for the plant to develop its root system. Apparently, the second season is when you really start to realize a sizeable yield beyond a few mere ounces (dried). I saw one guy saying he was getting anywhere from 20 to 50 lbs. per plant in its 8th season. Wow. If that’s the case, I won’t be heartbroken a few of the plants don’t make it. 250 lbs. of hops might be a bit much…

More to come as the weather improves!

classy mulch!

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