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-   -   hops and their crazy roots (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/hops-their-crazy-roots-53090/)

anderj 01-29-2008 05:15 PM

hops and their crazy roots
So like a lot of folks on here I like to make IPAs and also like a lot of people on here (I presume) I am not very rich. Again, like a lot of people on here I plan on growing some hops this season, I think I have room for 8 vines.
I was talking to a buddy the other day and he was saying that hops like to send out shoots and propagate themselves. His recommendation was to use some sort of liner to keep the roots at bay.
I like the idea of aggressive hops and maybe a jungle of them would be a good thing but I am just not ready for that.
Seeing as how I have absolutely no experience growing hops I was curious if some of you farmers out there could back up his claims or shoot them down.
This was the first I have heard of such a thing so I am not to sure I am going to dig a hole and put a liner in just on a casual conversation by the beer cooler at the co-op.


GilaMinumBeer 01-29-2008 05:21 PM

Hops do produce Rhisomes under ground that can reach a distance of up to 5 to 10 feet from the original Crown.

In my 4 foot by 50 foot garden I am planting 12 different plants. All to be "boxed in" to a 4 foot by 4 foot square to "control" undergroung growth.

Typical practices are that on an annual basis, the grower trims the underground growth which also benifits the plant in more vigourous upward growth.

With some very basic control of growing conditions, hop will grow like weeds. It is better for the harvester if this does not happen. It's much easier to harvest cones from a controlled growth rather than a wild bush like mess.

anderj 01-29-2008 05:39 PM

Ok, cool
so the barriers are only in the vertical sense, leaving room for a taproot to shoot down?
How deep would you recommend for these barriers?
Also, I was planning on giving each crown a 3X3 home, too small?

-thanks, always good to hear from a experienced farmer

pjj2ba 01-29-2008 07:00 PM

I just keep mine pruned. Once I've got the 3-4 shoots I want trained up on their string, I cut off any new sprouts that come up - unless I want to make new plants.

I had a hard time keeping after my cascade this year. It sent out lots of rhizomes that would poke their heads out 1 ft or so from the main plant. Some of these ended up being dug up and put in pots to give to friends.

CBBaron 01-29-2008 07:23 PM

Your not talking about some huge hop farm that will take tons of time to maintain, just a few hops in a garden. Just prune the extra shoots a couple times a year to keep the hops contained. It only takes a few minutes and it will benefit the plants.
A better investment would be to install some kind of drip irrigation system. Hops like lots of water and carrying buckets everyday can get old quick.

Bombo80 01-29-2008 07:42 PM

I had the same issues as pjj2ba had. Lots of sprouts coming up all around the base of the main hop root. Like CBBaron says, just trim them as they come up. I usually keep an eye on them weekly, as they can get out of hand pretty quick. Keep only the 4 - 6 best shoots and trim out the rest. Also keep the leaves trimmed up from the base of the plant, as well as along the length of the plant. I have mine growing along a privacy fence, and have to train them around the sisal twine, so they won't grow everywhere.

I only had one producing plant last year, but I planted four more varieties that grew really well for a first year. I should get a bumper crop this year.

As far as watering goes, I just run a soaker hose along the ground, right next to the main root. I also have other garden plants along the fence, so it's nice and green from July 1st, on.

Good luck

GilaMinumBeer 01-30-2008 06:54 PM


Originally Posted by anderj
Ok, cool
so the barriers are only in the vertical sense, leaving room for a taproot to shoot down?
How deep would you recommend for these barriers?
Also, I was planning on giving each crown a 3X3 home, too small?

-thanks, always good to hear from a experienced farmer

I have mine set to 13.5 Inches deep mainly due to conveinience set by materials (Corrugated panels split in half). I haven't heard, read, or experienced anything that would suggest that the underground growth goes any deeper. I do this mainly because I don't want to have anything shoot up near a different plant and find later that what I thought was Cascade actually turned out to be Fuggle but then again, annual trimming of the undergrowth should keep that as a non-issue.

I am using a raised bed method because my clay soils trap water and last year I lost 3 plants to Oxygen stress of the root system.

Pick up a copy of HomeGrown Hops or Homebrewers Garden for solid information on the nutritional needs of hops, dosing rates, and alternative means of providing. For example, one suggests using a 1/2tsp of Borax to supply the plants needs for Boron. Something I would have never considered before reading.

Orfy 01-30-2008 07:27 PM

I've just dug mine up and put it in a raised bed seperate to the main bed.

I've also put one under and hedge at the front of the p[roperty so it can run through the edge.

This took some pullin'

GilaMinumBeer 01-30-2008 07:57 PM

Excellent picture of a crown.

How old is it? What variety? How much downward and lateral growth do you suppose you left behind?

I have yet to dig mine up but have come to understand that they don't actually go that deep but do tend to spread out wildly. I am currently letting the new soil for the raised bed compost for a bit, I have added some fertilizers, manure, and some other nutrients and then mixed it together with a tiller. I tell ya' 16 cubic yards of soil is a beast to work with.

david_42 01-30-2008 08:11 PM

A really cool idea I saw here, is to cut the bottom out of a 5-gallon bucket and use it a a liner for the hole. Wish I'd thought of it when I was planting mine.

According to the hop farmers around here, a 40-50 year old plant can go down 15-20 feet.

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