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Old 04-05-2012, 07:41 AM   #1
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Default If you are going to grow hops, please do it right

Ok, so I wanted to throw out some suggestions for growing hops and honestly not just hops but anything that you want to consume in some way or another.

First soil care and health- known as fertility. Things like Miracle Grow and other commercial fertilizers do not really do anything except give your plants a temporary boost, but it actually causes more problems unless you are going to put your plants on a regular schedule of miracle grow (waste of money).

What you need to do is keep your soil healthy!
1. Use a good compost on your entire garden. I create my own compost but it isn't that hard to find some. If you are having a specific defiency, like nitrogen then add some kind of animal manure. If you like fishing (or have a kid) you catch a bunch of little bluegills? Take them (humanely kill them) and plant them gently near your hops (nitrogen problem fixed for a year).

2. Once you have a good layer of compost blended into your soil and your hops are planted, Place a good layer of mulch on top of your soil. Mulch is the key to keeping all the moisture and those nutrients in the soil.

3. Do not cover your hop plants with insecticides! Plant some beneficial flowers and herbs around your hops and the pests will be taken care of. If you try to do what the big hop farms do and just grow hops you will have insect problems.
Some suggestions. Mints! All mints are great but Catmint repels Aphids! Yarrow attracts ladybugs which will control aphids! Onions, garlic, Chives!
Parsley! Sunflowers, Dill, corriander, Marigolds, hyssop...

4. You want insects in and on your plants, certain insects will hurt your hops, but most will leave them alone. Especially the hop cones. Ants, bees, ladybugs, wasps, spiders and some others are all good to have around your hops, they will kill the bad guys. Ants are the baddest mofos out there, but won't eat hops.

5. Grow some other edibles as well especially beans! If you grow some peas or beans around your hops they will naturally fix nitrogen problems in the soil. Growing other edibles like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers will attract some pests away. Plus you will be creating diversity in your garden.

6. Last, at the end of the season when you pull all of your hop vines down and pick those cones off compost the dead hop vines, as well as all the other plants from your garden. Those leaves from your trees that you hate raking, compost those, if you have a bag for your lawnmower, compost the grass, ect.

DO THIS AT LEAST!! If you do not want to make a compost pile at your house, ok, but at the end of the season take all of your dead plants, the hop vines, the mint, the tomato plant, the tree leaves, ect...and run them over a couple times with your lawn mower. Now gently rake back your mulch, put about a 1-2 inch layer of this stuff right on top of your soil, then put your mulch back on top. By the next spring that layer of fertility you put down on top of the soil will be about 50% gone...into your soil!

Happy Hop Growing!

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Old 04-05-2012, 08:52 AM   #2
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Some really great advice here. I'm lucky enough to live in N.Idaho one of the best places on earth to grow hops. My wife is an avid gardner and just purchased a $300 composter and I said WHAT! After she explained it to me it made sense,plus now I'll have some nice compost for my hop plants. She's also growing a bunch of chives (indoors now) so that's a good thing. I can go down to several lakes here and catch 100 bluegill and sunfish easy in a few hours, the ones to small to fillet will now be fertilizer for my hops, I remember my dad and uncle telling me to fertilize with fish when I was a kid growing tomatoes. Anyway great post.

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Old 04-05-2012, 12:40 PM   #3
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Thank you, Good luck with that composter...your trash will be a lot lighter.

Yeah the Bluegill thing is the easiest trick in the world, though I am probably going to piss some PETA folks off by saying it

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Old 04-05-2012, 01:32 PM   #4
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Great primer! I'd like to add a couple of things, though.

As discussed here recently, mint can be a very invasive species. You should strongly consider growing these in a planter near your hops, not directly in the ground. Also, keep the planter slightly elevated - if you place it right on the dirt, the mint will just grow out the bottom then take over your garden. It's just my personal preference, but I'll only plant annuals directly in with my hops so the roots aren't competing year over year. I plant helpful perennials nearby, but slightly separate.

Don't compost diseased plant material! If your tomatoes, one of your hops () or anything else shows signs of powdery mildew or any other disease, do NOT put it in the compost. Many diseases can survive the composting process then infect other plants. Either throw the diseased plants out or burn them. If you can't do either, compost them in a far corner of your yard but don't use that compost in the garden.

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Old 04-05-2012, 02:08 PM   #5
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Nice opinion. Good luck with all that. If it works and makes you feel good then great. I just want to point out another opinion here. A lot of people try to make exclusive organic vegetable gardens yet they have no problem using chemicals off the shelves for the rest of their landscape or when cooking up a dinner with chemically treated foods or putting on clothing that was chemically treated. Non "organic" Chemicals are perfectly fine if used as intended. I have no issue with people that want to go organic or whatever but lets not pretend that it doesn't take a lot of money and time to do it. Good IPM practices along with insecticides can in fact be more effective and environmental than strict organic controls if done right. Not to sound like a quack, but in the big picture, bringing in exotic plants and animals for pest control can and will create a new problem down the road if not considered in advance like weeds, death to other beneficial insects, over populations, etc. I'm all for biological pest controls but I don't use that approach at work with blinders on either. Miracle grow is expensive- that is correct, but it does work at what it does and it is not a unique product in this industry nor did it invent foliar feeding. Miracle Grow to foliars is like starbucks is to coffee. It feeds the plants at a slow and constant rate that cannot be achieved by organic methods. It also allows you to grow your way out of decline caused by environmental elements and to strengthen the plant when going up against stress. The cost can be high, but price it up against an organic fertilizer and the difference is not too great.

As for soil, drainage, drainage, drainage is the first priority. Then consider moisture retention, toxins (ph, salt), and vegetative matter.

With that said, I plan to use organic fertilizers on my hop garden experiment because of their added benefits and the fact that I have some in stock along with insecticides and gas for the gophers if necessary. I have very sandy soil so I will apply a topsoil in the top layer and maybe cover the surface with gravel or something. Trying to grow mint or buy lady bugs is a huge waste of money for me. The lady bugs will not hang out at my home and the mint will be another non native plant that I am trying to avoid.

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Old 04-05-2012, 02:20 PM   #6
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Good tip on the mint I have some growing between my hops and I just trim it back but having some growing in pots is a good idea.

As for the diseased plants, sorry I thought that was something that was like a understood fact...

Thanks, any additions are more than welcome

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Old 04-05-2012, 02:53 PM   #7
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Good stuff guys, thanks.

For those of you composting, don't forget to compost your spent grains. I dump my yeast/trub in the composter as well.

Also, I like clover. Big-money lawn care convinced America it's a weed, but its amazingly beneficial.

And FWIW, I haven't noticed catmint to be as invasive as the other mint (spear, pepper, garden, etc) mint varieties.

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Old 04-05-2012, 03:45 PM   #8
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Nice opinion. Good luck with all that. If it works and makes you feel good then great. I just want to point out another opinion here. A lot of people try to make exclusive organic vegetable gardens yet they have no problem using chemicals off the shelves for the rest of their landscape or when cooking up a dinner with chemically treated foods or putting on clothing that was chemically treated. Non "organic" Chemicals are perfectly fine if used as intended. I have no issue with people that want to go organic or whatever but lets not pretend that it doesn't take a lot of money and time to do it. Good IPM practices along with insecticides can in fact be more effective and environmental than strict organic controls if done right. Not to sound like a quack, but in the big picture, bringing in exotic plants and animals for pest control can and will create a new problem down the road if not considered in advance like weeds, death to other beneficial insects, over populations, etc.
1) It doesn't take a lot of time and money, in my experience, and even if it did, so does any other hobby, so what is your point?

2) Every local situation is different. Some people are trying to grow things in climates that are not very conducive or friendly and they have to take more extreme measures in terms of water, ferts, herbicides, etc. There is no stead-fast rule one way or the other for these people (aside from trying to grow more climate tolerant options )

3) In my experience, being very judicious with pesticide and herbicide applications is most beneficial to the entire ecosystem. You don't have to be all "CRAZY ONLY ORGANIC", but you also don't have to apply every chemical on earth in a broadcast manner. It is not a black and white issue. I want to have veggies and fruits that have as few non-organic or chemical additives as is reasonably possible. It is still drastically better than commercially-grown non-organic for the vast majority of crops. I haven't sprayed in more than 4 years now (aside from occasional spot treatment in the lawn). Just because you see a couple aphids or spider mites does not mean you have to go apesh1t with the sevin.

4) Plants (yes, even non-natives), when chosen and grown properly, have never been an issue in my garden. Biodiversity is king. Mint grows well in potted situations here so long as you keep them from drying out. Lavender, rosemary, various peas and beans, aster, daisy, black eyes susan, dill, sunflowers, tarragon, yarrow, echinacea, bee balm, etc etc. I have many of these planted in and around my garden in addition to various other plants (edible or otherwise). I see tons of ladybugs, praying mantis, dragonflies, and lots of birds. Japanese beetles are about the only pest the companion plantings fail to control. Luckily, they much prefer the roses, birch tree, and pole beans over the hops.

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For those of you composting, don't forget to compost your spent grains. I dump my yeast/trub in the composter as well.

Also, I like clover. Big-money lawn care convinced America it's a weed, but its amazingly beneficial.

And FWIW, I haven't noticed catmint to be as invasive as the other mint (spear, pepper, garden, etc) mint varieties.
Spent grains are great, but they overwhelm my compost tumbler. I simply don't have room for open compost bins or they would be burried in there most times.

Is that what you have convinced your wife of with respect to the clover? Your neighbors hate you, don't they?

And for me, catmint sort of creeps along. It doesn't reseed and spread readily like some invasives, but it is more like chive in the way it slowly takes over. The bees just love the stuff, though!
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:56 PM   #9
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Moving to a new house soon, I can't put up my hop trellis where it really needs to go, aesthetic reasons... So the place I could grow them is up the back of the house... north facing side. Will I run in to a lot of problems since they won't get any direct sunlight? I'm mostly just looking to get a few hops and keep the crowns alive until I move again in hopefully 5 years to a house I plan to build myself.

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Old 04-05-2012, 04:05 PM   #10
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Moving to a new house soon, I can't put up my hop trellis where it really needs to go, aesthetic reasons... So the place I could grow them is up the back of the house... north facing side. Will I run in to a lot of problems since they won't get any direct sunlight? I'm mostly just looking to get a few hops and keep the crowns alive until I move again in hopefully 5 years to a house I plan to build myself.
N side of the house is going to be problematic, I imagine. You don't have any space on the east or west side? Without direct sunlight they are going to be leggy and fail to produce much in the way of a harvest.
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