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Old 04-20-2010, 03:12 AM   #1
Retrofit
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Default Companion planting for Hops

So I've seen a lot of threads where various hop growers give great advice to new hop growers.

I thought it might be nice to start a single thread where companion plants could be listed/suggested.

I also have a question to start things off.

Several people have mentioned growing pole beans to 'save' hops from Japanese Beetles.

I grow my hops in raised garden beds. I have raised beds adjacent to the hops beds.

Would I want to plant the pole beans IN the hop bed, or in the bed next to it?

I ask because I'm wondering if the beans would rob nutrients from the hops if they are in the same bed. Does that makes sense? If they are in a seperate bed and next to each other I know there is no issue of nutrient robbing. If they are in the same bed, they might compliment each other or they might hurt each other. Basically I'm trying to figure out where to plant these pole beans.

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Old 04-20-2010, 04:08 AM   #2
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japanese beetles eat what tastes good to them. they don't care and have wings to fly away if you try to spray them with insecticides. if you kill the ones on your plants, others will fly in and continue to eat. sorry, that's the truth. of the six or eight varieties i have planted, they seem to like the volunteer most, and the mt. hood next. hops are very creative when it comes to their ability to flourish and be bountiful, so if you're worried about a diminished harvest due to the beetles, string more vines or put a few more rhizomes in. my best suggestion as to what to plant to divert the beetles away from your hops is to study the vegetation in your particular growing area and take note of what the beetles like. plant that particular type of plant and keep your fingers crossed. believe me, it's a losing proposition if you think you're gonna take control of nature. best you can do is to help steer it in another direction. also, plant whatever type of companion crop you'd like that will fix nitrogen (beans/peas/legumes) as there will probably come to be a mutual relationship between them and the hops as it pertains to nutrient uptake. the hops will usually win, in my opinion. b hoppy

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Old 04-20-2010, 03:54 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrofit View Post
I thought it might be nice to start a single thread where companion plants could be listed/suggested.
Good Idea, but keep in mind that companion crops have 2 or 3 purposes:

1) Nutrient companion (in this case nitrogen fixing plants)
2) Insect attracting companions (peas, legumes, lavender, some aster/daisy/marigolds, etc)
3) cover crops (may overlap with #1, but also intend to prevent erosion)

There may be other reasons as well, but these, IMO are the primary reasons

Quote:
Originally Posted by Retrofit View Post
Several people have mentioned growing pole beans to 'save' hops from Japanese Beetles.

I grow my hops in raised garden beds. I have raised beds adjacent to the hops beds.

Would I want to plant the pole beans IN the hop bed, or in the bed next to it?
I plant pole beans because I love them, but they are also nitrogen fixers (not as good as soy/bush beans, though), and as mentioned, the Japanese beetles MUCH prefer the pole beans to anything in my garden other than roses. Because I grow my pole beans on 6' tee pee-like poles, it is also easy to pick them into soapy water rubbermaid for control

I have a wide array of fruit trees, berries, veggies and about 8 or 9 varieties of hops (14 crowns) and I have not had the Japanese beetles take anything more than a sample of the hops. I grow the beans quite near the hops (right next to them, basically) Also, because pole beans are so vigorous, some leaf damage does not really effect bean production noticeably, so you get a nice bean crop and distract the buggers.

You could also put in some rose bushes a ways away from the hops and veggies and you can treat that area more heavily with Grub control chemicals than you would want to near veggies and hops.


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Originally Posted by Retrofit View Post
I ask because I'm wondering if the beans would rob nutrients from the hops if they are in the same bed. Does that makes sense? If they are in a seperate bed and next to each other I know there is no issue of nutrient robbing. If they are in the same bed, they might compliment each other or they might hurt each other. Basically I'm trying to figure out where to plant these pole beans.
Plant them as close to the hops as you want. I plant early season peas and bush/soy beans right among the hops as a cover crop and my pole beans are less than 15 feet from the hops. They are all nitrogen fixers and will benefit your soil and the hops.
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Old 04-20-2010, 04:07 PM   #4
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japanese beetles eat what tastes good to them. they don't care and have wings to fly away if you try to spray them with insecticides. if you kill the ones on your plants, others will fly in and continue to eat. sorry, that's the truth.
You sound like a beaten man!


The best bet for suburban folks is to educate your neighbors on how to control them via annual (fall & spring application is best) grub killer application and to try to redirect them as best you can via sacrificial plantings. While they can fly as far as 5 miles and 1-2 miles is most likely as far as they will go from the place they hatch, most flight is short here-to-there feeding, so keeping local colonies from becoming established is a key

If that doesn't work, convince a few people a block or so away to allow you to put Japanese beetle traps in their trees! haha!
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Old 04-21-2010, 04:16 AM   #5
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. . . been beaten by the best of them. after college i ended up working as an agronomist for a lawncare co. in upstate ny. during those nine years my interest in DRINKING and brewing beer was heightened by the constant "I've got grubs" service calls. we did a cooperative study with cornell univ. on white grubs and really found nothing conclusive as to the why and what determines how devastating their wrath would be from year to year. from what i've experienced is that they'll eat a bunch of the leaves, and grind a little on a few cones, but don't really cause a big reduction in yield. so in july, once most of the little creeps have pupated, and are flying around eating everything in sight, go back into the air conditioning, pour yourself a homebrew, put some music on and CHILL.

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Old 04-21-2010, 03:29 PM   #6
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Well, to be fair then, I live in an area where Japanese beetle infestations are relatively new and it is possible the colonies here are not yet as heavily populated as in the Northeast.

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Old 04-21-2010, 04:40 PM   #7
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keep your fingers crossed and don't sweat it if you have some damage in future years.

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