So, I got an email earlier this year from my local HBS, and they were selling Hop Rhizomes, I thought I would give it a try. I had grown lots of vegetables and plants growing up so I thought it would be easy.
Once I got my rhizomes, the stark realization that I didn't actually own the place, and I was living in a duplex with a mostly shade yard hit me. I am a programmer by trade, and a self proclaimed engineer/DIY'er (I was technically a mechanical engineering student for 2 semesters before I went Computer Science in college). So I took this opportunity to do some research and see what other people had done. But first I compiled a list of restraints that I would need to follow:
- Not make any permanate changes to the property
- Allow the hops the best chance to grow
- Spend as little $$ as possible (To appease SWMBO)
- Make it easy to harvest the hops
- Not take up the whole yard, the dogs needed some place to run around
- Look fairly elegant
Cutting ahead here is the aggregated list of supplies I used for the whole setup:
- 4 Hop Rhizomes (2 Centennial, 2 Cascade)
- 2 Large Potters from Costco
- 100' of 1/4 inch twine
- 50' of Para-Cord
- 5' 1.5 inch PVC pipe
- 2 Treated 2x4x10's
- 2 Plastic round Ground steaks (Round is important)
- 100' of Garden String
- 3x 2cu ft. Dehydrated Organic Compost and Manure
- 2x 2.5 cu ft Vegetable Plant Potting Soil
- 3/8 inch Drill Bit, (1/2 will make things easier to work with)
- Drill (How else would you use the drill bit)
- Lighter (for finishing the ends of the para-cord after cutting)
So first to plant the hops I got one of the very large potter plants from Costco ($9/each), They are a plastic version of a cut off wine barrel. I then went to Lowes, and got 3 of the cheapest bags of dehydrated cow manure (2 cu feet each) as well as 2 cheap bags of the knock off brand of vegetable plant starter soil (2.5 cu feet each).
I then placed some drainage rocks on the bottom, just by going under the porch and pulling out rocks the contractors threw under there as well as going through the yard, as we had just re-done half the yard to plant grass so the dogs weren't muddy. I did notice that they had a bag of drainage rocks that would be useful if other rocks weren't readily available.
I then took a drill and made several holes in the bottom of the planter, to let the excess water escape. Then I put the rocks on the bottom, about 2 inches of rocks, the coarser rocks on the bottom. Then I took half a bag of the potting soil, and put it on the bottom, just to cover it. I then put a bag and a half of the manure in the middle then I layered the rest of the potting soil on top. I gave it a few good mixes, so that it wasn't as stratified.
I then planted the hops and watered them and then waited for them to grow. While they were sprouting it gave me some time to think about how to train the vines. I had a large trellis that I shared with my neighbor, but they already had some stuff growing on it, so I figured that I would just figure something else out.
Idea #1: have a large pole in the middle of the 2 potters and run string up to the top, from both planters.
The problem I had with this was the pole stability. I would have to either anchor it, or tie it to the fence post, some how. This I did not find to be ideal. Also the other problem was, how would I get a pole long enough. PVC with a connector to double the height. I thought that there might be a weight problem of the vines if I went to high.
Idea #2: have 2 poles with a guy wire going across both potters and run the lines straight up.
Problems with this were pretty much identical to Idea one, however the anchoring part would be a little easier, as the tension on the lines would work to balance the poles.
Idea #3: we have a window on our second story that doesn't stay open by itself, if you open the window it will pretty much fall out of the frame, that being the case we never open it. So i thought to just run the lines from the potters to the window.
They say third time is a charm...
I put the planters next to the deck so that I could run the line up to the window, however I noticed that when the vines grew, they would be draped over the railing. So I thought to get 2 treated 2x4x10's and tie them to the support beams of the deck. This way it would create almost a canopy. I tied them to the deck using para-cord, and some knots that I was trying to recall from my early days back in the boy scouts.. but I just ended up improvising and it worked.
I then drilled a 3/8 inch hole at the top of the post and folded the garden string back on itself and threaded the looped string through, and then used the loop to wrap around the wood. then on the other side I did a similar thing but just ended up tying it. off after I looped it around the post
I then was trying to figure out how to anchor the twine for the vines to grow up, and I thought to drill a hole in the side of the planter, and feed the grounding steaks through. 3/8 inch bit ended up being snug but not to tight so it hopefully wont wriggle out, once its in.
It was a little difficult cutting the side, because its a curved surface so the drill liked to walk a bit.
I found it helpful to lay the ground steak over the pot where I wanted it to go through to give me a good spot on where to drill and at what angle.