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Old 01-29-2012, 07:46 PM   #1
theamigo
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Default Adequate Spot for Growing Hops

I was curious if I could take the space between my garage and fence and use it for growing hops this year. I'm located in southern Alabama and that side of the garage faces south. I would plan on clearing all the existing growth out of there and trying to fit the tiller back there to work the soil. The space looks like this:



It is a one car garage so that strip is probably about 15-17 feet long. Does this look like it would be an adequate spot? If so how many rhizomes should I try? What king of prep should I do and what kind of system would you recommend to let the bines climb?

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Old 01-30-2012, 06:13 PM   #2
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once cleaned up and the soil improved (add sand and organic matter, if you're like most AL soils), that spot should be great. getting in and out of there to tend to the plants might be a bit tricky, but not impossible.

i assume you will be running ropes up to the garage roof? if so, you'll likely want to keep the bines off of the blacktar roofing on the garage. that stuff heats up way too much in the summer. it'll burn your plants. you'll want to keep going straight up on some sort of a structure you've built, or somehow go horizontal.

edit: are you on good terms with your neighbor? might help if you have his permission to jump over the fence and examine the plants from his side, would be easier to get to the middle plants instead of stepping over (and possibly on) the outter edge plants, etc.

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Old 01-30-2012, 06:38 PM   #3
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I wouldn't go with more than two or three plants for a space that big. Especially if you want to plant different varieties. If the bines intertwine, it makes it a little hard come harvest time to keep them seperate. As mentioned already, it will be hard to tend the plants in such a confined area. The first couple years should be no problem, but once the crowns get established good, they will keep firing up new shoots all summer and you will need to keep those pruned back so that the plants can concentrate on the bines you chose to train. Also, it's nice to be able to access the plants for inspection purposes and to treat problems such as pests. If you get a spider mite infestation or something, it will be hard to deal with (not that it's easy to begin with). How long is your fence row? I would consider planting them along the fence. I do it both ways, I have a 15' trellis with three plants and I have 3 more plants that I grow along a chain link fence line. It's a little more work doing the fence thing as you have to manually train the bines through the fence once a week or so to make them grow horizontally. But, honestly, my plants on the fences seem to do just as well or better than the ones on the trellis. I tend to get less hops in general from the fence plants, but the hops are bigger and have more lupulin. Plus, the leaves grow on both sides and trap in moisture. During the hot dry spell in summer, this a great deterant against spider mites (with which I've had plenty of trouble). The spider mites tear through my trellis in no time if I don't catch them early, but they don't seem to bother the fence plants that much.

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Old 01-30-2012, 10:28 PM   #4
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How far down does the foundation wall under your garage go? Hops' roots can spread a good 9 feet in each direction. If your base wall goes down more than a foot or two, it will likely restrict your root development. Also consider the potential ramifications of your hops' roots growing (a) under your garage (do you have any underdrains they could penetrate, etc.?) and (b) under your neighbor's yard (what if he wants to dig a hole to plant a tree, put in a pool, or dump something unpleasant on the dirt?). Hop roots aren't anything as destructive as tree roots can be (they won't buckle pavement), but they can be an issue at times. They like to spread and if the crown is left on its own long enough, they can pop up new bines a good distance from the parent plant that can develop into new crowns....what does your neighbor think of the chance of hop bines popping up in his yard in a few years?

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Old 01-31-2012, 12:17 AM   #5
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I am on good terms with the neighbor so I definitely make sure he is cool with it.

The fence runs probably 30 yards away from the garage so I could try to have some go horizontally on it.

I was thinking of putting a couple of posts in the ground and attaching some twine up to them for the plants to climb, definitely keeping them off the roof though.

Based on your responses I think I'm going to give it a go. I'll stick to one type of hop for this year (thinking one of the big C's), 3 or 4 rhizomes. Worst case that spot gets cleared out and I'm out $30. Best case I have some homegrown hops to play with.

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Old 01-31-2012, 07:09 PM   #6
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One concern I'd have about growing them up against a South facing brick wall in the deep South is the heat. Most hops struggle with the Southern heat in the summer, and putting them against a scorching hot brick wall may not be too good for them - the air flow will be limited and the brick will retain heat into the night.

An East wall would probably be better, where they'd get morning to noon sun and then shade from the afternoon heat. I think most Southern hop growers agree that full day sun can be a bit too much for hops during the summer.

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Old 01-31-2012, 10:53 PM   #7
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That is a good point. I may need to consider some alternatives. There was decent heat coming off that wall this past weekend when I was scoping it out.

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