Per the side arm growth, either way is fine. one thing I've noticed, though, it if you train some of the lower laterals they will tend to climb and get longer than they would otherwise, which means more hops. At the node, where the laterals come out on each side, often there will be one side that is longer and stronger looking. Give that one a few twists around the string and see if it takes off. For me, the lowest laterals, usually ones that you can reach from the ground are the best candidates to climb. Try it on one or a couple and let the others do their own thing and you can compare results.
Glad to hear the fertilizer is working out! You added it at a good time.