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-   -   Winterizing... (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/winterizing-272919/)

r8rphan 10-06-2011 03:22 PM

Winterizing...
 
So it snowed a little last night, and it's supposed to drop into the 20's tonight as the storm passes on through...

What do I need to do to prep my hops for the winter?

I guess I need to cut them down... How far above or below ground?

Then, should I leave the hops plants there piled up in the bed to die and decompose and return to the soil, or should I not bother with that?

Do I need to bury them? How deep?

I'd like to add another 4-6" depth to the beds before all is said and done, but if that takes two or three years, I'm good with that.. Will they grow through that much soil mix?

I have a garbage can full of peat moss I could bury them with, and I also have some fresh soil mix in another couple of beds I could use...

These are raised beds that the hops are planted in... currently 20" beds with about 12-14" of soil mix in them..

Anyways, hope you guys can give me some good advice, as I need to do this today when I get back from work... gonna get our first freeze tonight....

Thanks,
Mark

InfiniteThought 10-06-2011 07:47 PM

I am not a pro I will admit that straight off but I do grow my own hops. The rootballs underground can tolerate slight freezes but a real deep freeze can kill them. I cut my bines of about 3 feet above the plants, it doesn't matter what you do with the cut off part I just pull them down and let them decompose in place. You already have peat-moss which is what I was going to recommend, just pile it up over the rootball to give them some insulation. How cold does it get where you are?

day_trippr 10-06-2011 09:14 PM

Same as how I work our veggie gardens, I disposed most of the bines well away from the beds, just in case there was anything lurking in them that I'd just assume doesn't propagate into the next season. I only left a couple of feet still attached at the crowns. Once the hard frosts arrive (which could actually start tonight) I'll be cutting them down to a few inches above ground, then mulching the beds heavily with compost topped with a few inches of straw. Should have a total depth of about 6 inches.

Hopefully we'll get plenty of early snow that will insulate the beds from any deep freeze. We had almost five feet of snow last year right where my hop beds are...

Cheers!

r8rphan 10-06-2011 09:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by InfiniteThought (Post 3364132)
I am not a pro I will admit that straight off but I do grow my own hops. The rootballs underground can tolerate slight freezes but a real deep freeze can kill them. I cut my bines of about 3 feet above the plants, it doesn't matter what you do with the cut off part I just pull them down and let them decompose in place. You already have peat-moss which is what I was going to recommend, just pile it up over the rootball to give them some insulation. How cold does it get where you are?



Typically it's in the low teens during the winter.. But the last two years, the winters kicked off with a cold blast that dropped into the low single digits for two or three days.. This in late december...

Right now, I'm expecting the temps to drop into the high twenties from here out.. Sometimes up to the high thirties... Got down to the freezing mark last night, slightly lower... There was some ice skimming the rain water that had collected in the wheelbarrow... Had a dusting of snow yesterday afternoon...

So peat moss makes a good insulator?

I guess I should put some compost down, maybe a bit of soil mix on top of that and then the peat moss on top of that?

wolverinebrewer 10-07-2011 12:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by r8rphan (Post 3363072)
So it snowed a little last night, and it's supposed to drop into the 20's tonight as the storm passes on through...

What do I need to do to prep my hops for the winter?

I guess I need to cut them down... How far above or below ground?

Then, should I leave the hops plants there piled up in the bed to die and decompose and return to the soil, or should I not bother with that?

Do I need to bury them? How deep?

I'd like to add another 4-6" depth to the beds before all is said and done, but if that takes two or three years, I'm good with that.. Will they grow through that much soil mix?

I have a garbage can full of peat moss I could bury them with, and I also have some fresh soil mix in another couple of beds I could use...

These are raised beds that the hops are planted in... currently 20" beds with about 12-14" of soil mix in them..

Anyways, hope you guys can give me some good advice, as I need to do this today when I get back from work... gonna get our first freeze tonight....

Thanks,
Mark

Since you said your hops are in raised beds, it doesn't matter that you mulch them to retain heat as the box will eventually freeze solid anyway. Being this way, your hops will experience the coldest conditions in your zone. But do not worry. I have read various sources that claim hops can live in zone 3 (-30-40) and some claim zone 4 (-20-30). Whatever the zone, do not worry, hops are very tolerant of freezing temperatures. Being in CA, the coldest zone is 5 so you shouldn't have any worries even if the roots freeze solid.
I would just cut them back a few inches above the ground and mulch them with shredded leaves. The reason I use leaves is they will decompose into organic matter, add nutrients, retain moisture, cool the roots, and attract worms which help aerify the soil. By springtime, most of the leaves will be deteriorated or almost.
I'm not a big fan of using peat moss for top dressing. It is better utilized by mixing it into crappy soils to help improve soil structure. Plus its more expensive while leaves are free. You didn't say how established your hop plants are and you said you wanted to add to the depth of the box. If your plants are relatively new, I probably would dig them up, mix in all of that great organic stuff; peat, compost, and soil mix to raise up to your desired depth and then replant the hops. Then water them in good and add your leaf matter.
As far as getting rid of the existing bines, I would just get rid of them.

Retrofit 10-07-2011 12:35 AM

I live in Chicago area I have 13 hops in a raised bed. I've never lost a plant. These plants a Tonka tuff.

r8rphan 10-07-2011 02:21 PM

So just before dark I go out and yank all the tomatoes and basil plants as it was already down to about 34 degrees..

They all got planted to late and were no where close to being done, was trying to get all I can out of them... Well the mid-twenties never materialized this morning.. A stiff wind kicked up and kept everything in the upper thirties.. Now there's at least a week ahead of above freezing weather...

Could have left them all alone to grow/ripen a little more.. :mad:

tchuklobrau 10-07-2011 04:10 PM

lol there u have it r8rphan proof that procrastintion is better sometimes. i always w8 till it is dismally clear that it is all done


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