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Old 12-02-2008, 09:26 PM   #1
ChrisS68
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Default Putting the Hops to Bed

This past weekend we were blessed with some halfway decent weather, so on Sunday I was able to get the hops ready for winter. Just in time as we got 4+ inches of snow Sunday night/Monday morning.

When I cut down the bines, I found it interesting that a few plants had sprouted what I guess I would call "winter buds" near the base of the bines. I'm not a horticulturalist, so I don't know what the actual term is, but it's kinda how trees and such will produce a little new growth at hte tips as they get ready for their winter slumber. They basically looked like the tips of young bines. They were particularly plentiful on the Hallertauer which, over the summer, had grown almost like a bush.

When I cut the bines, I left the portions with the buds intact. The plants without the regrowth I cut leaving maybe a couple inches above ground. I cleaned up the leaf debris around the plants as I think I might've had a little gray mold toward the end of the season. In hindsight I wonder if I should've sprayed the ground with some Green Cure to get a leg up for the spring. Anyhoo, after that, I covered the mounds with several inches of straw. Each mound is surrounded by chicken wire, which should keep the straw from going anywhere. Not sure how necessary it is to cover the plants, if at all. I just figured it's their first year, and if we have a rough winter, it sure couldn't hurt. Guess we'll see how it goes.

Chris

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Old 12-03-2008, 05:46 PM   #2
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I am hesitant to cover my hills with straw since last year I found that some voles or mice had made a winter home in my strawberries I had covered with straw, digging all kinds of holes and furrows among the plants. I'd get rather peeved if they did that to my hops, too. Maybe if I create a dome-like structure with hardware cloth, that will keep them out.

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Old 12-03-2008, 09:23 PM   #3
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That's something I didn't even consider. I really should have, knowing how much mice enjoy straw. I might need to reconsider. Thanks!
Rhetorical thought: wonder if the cats are enough to keep them away...

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Old 12-03-2008, 10:30 PM   #4
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Also remember that straw will have a tendancy of bringing in seeds that you don't want.

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Old 12-04-2008, 04:43 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys.
I know a lot of people don't bother covering with anything, but the PDF from Left Fields does suggest topping with mulch of the winters are cold enough. It's not even winter yet and we already have a few inches of snow on the ground, and we're looking at lows in the 0-degree range for at least the next few days. The forecast for the next week or so doesn't show a whole lot of improvement. I don't even want to think about January. Global warming my butt.

So, do you think that a few inches of wood mulch would be a better choice? I've got a couple bags left over from this summer. Should the small bines with the buds I left intact be left to the mercy of the elements, or would the crowns be better served by cutting them off?

Thanks again!

Chris

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Old 12-09-2008, 02:55 PM   #6
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As long as you have snow covering the hills, you're in good shape.

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Old 12-09-2008, 10:31 PM   #7
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I just covered mine with 5-6 inches of extra dirt/compost. I live up here in Canada, and I know several guys who don't cover their hops with anything and they do just fine.

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