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Are my rhizomes dead?

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myndflyte

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So I bought 6 rhizomes for our new house and built planters on top of a hill for them. They've been in the ground for about a month now (Southeastern WI) and don't have any sign of shoots yet. So I dug down a bit to find them and the soil is pretty sopping wet. 5 of the 6 rhizomes look like they haven't grown at all and I think they are rotted.

The wet soil really concerns me and I'm thinking that I don't have good drainage. I'm chalking this year up as a lost cause and trying to plan for next year. What can I mix into the soil to increase drainage? Would sand work or should I look for something like lava rocks?
 

apache_brew

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So I bought 6 rhizomes for our new house and built planters on top of a hill for them. They've been in the ground for about a month now (Southeastern WI) and don't have any sign of shoots yet. So I dug down a bit to find them and the soil is pretty sopping wet. 5 of the 6 rhizomes look like they haven't grown at all and I think they are rotted.

The wet soil really concerns me and I'm thinking that I don't have good drainage. I'm chalking this year up as a lost cause and trying to plan for next year. What can I mix into the soil to increase drainage? Would sand work or should I look for something like lava rocks?
Most likely they're done for. You should have seen some white shoots on the rhizomes by now. Dark and spongy is no bueno. That's how all my hop plants looked going into their second season. My soil had too much clay and compost that just broke down after the first season and didnt drain over the winter. I started fresh with new rhizomes this year and went with a more balanced potting soil mix (growing in pots) that has perlite which helps with drainage. You might still be able to order new rhizomes and atleast get them growing this year to establish roots and have a head start for next year.
 
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myndflyte

myndflyte

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Most likely they're done for. You should have seen some white shoots on the rhizomes by now. Dark and spongy is no bueno. That's how all my hop plants looked going into their second season. My soil had too much clay and compost that just broke down after the first season and didnt drain over the winter. I started fresh with new rhizomes this year and went with a more balanced potting soil mix (growing in pots) that has perlite which helps with drainage. You might still be able to order new rhizomes and atleast get them growing this year to establish roots and have a head start for next year.
So for perlite, do I just till up the soil and mix the perlite in? Or do I lay down a layer of perlite and throw soil on top of that?
After you have corrected the drainage problem/location, you might find GLH beneficial as opposed to buying more rhizomes at this stage. Great Lakes Hops Home

It sure beats waiting another year to find out if your solution to the problem worked or not. Waiting another year puts you further behind.
Yeah I think that would be a great way to get something growing this year.
 

lump42

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Don't add sand or perlite to heavy clay soil, you'll just make concrete.

The easiest solution would be to build a raised bed 6-8 inches deep and fill it with a 50:50 blend of top soil and aged compost. The beds don't need to be wooden or concrete around them, though it helps with mowing around them. You can just mound up a 3-4 ft wide patch 6-8 inches deep. Remember the soil will settle, so shoot initially for 8-10 inches so it settles to 6-8 inches.
 
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myndflyte

myndflyte

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Don't add sand or perlite to heavy clay soil, you'll just make concrete.

The easiest solution would be to build a raised bed 6-8 inches deep and fill it with a 50:50 blend of top soil and aged compost. The beds don't need to be wooden or concrete around them, though it helps with mowing around them. You can just mound up a 3-4 ft wide patch 6-8 inches deep. Remember the soil will settle, so shoot initially for 8-10 inches so it settles to 6-8 inches.
Unfortunately I'm sort of stuck with the location and setup now. I've buried posts and made trellises in the boxes that I made. Could I make artificial boxes by laying down a layer of rock at ground level, laying down plywood with holes drilled through it and then filling it with top soil and compost?
 

FullThrottle64

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After you have corrected the drainage problem/location, you might find GLH beneficial as opposed to buying more rhizomes at this stage. Great Lakes Hops Home

It sure beats waiting another year to find out if your solution to the problem worked or not. Waiting another year puts you further behind.
A similar option might be Hop Varieties - Sandy Ridge Farms, if they still have any available. I am happy with the plants I got from them a few weeks ago.
 

CodeSection

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A similar option might be Hop Varieties - Sandy Ridge Farms, if they still have any available. I am happy with the plants I got from them a few weeks ago.
Good to have choices. In my case, I ordered Neomexicaus hop plants (Amalia, Willow Creek and Multihead) that only GLH had available. Then they threw in a free Williamette.

I wonder what if SRF's "craft garden" size is a two year old plant since it costs about double as compared to their pint size plant. If it is, that would be an advantage to SRF if one is willing to pay more.
 

lump42

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Unfortunately I'm sort of stuck with the location and setup now. I've buried posts and made trellises in the boxes that I made. Could I make artificial boxes by laying down a layer of rock at ground level, laying down plywood with holes drilled through it and then filling it with top soil and compost?
I missed the part about the planters. If you've already made boxes, then that is a raised bed Check it a day after a heavy rain or irrigation. It should be moist but not saturated. If it's saturated, you'll need to either amend or replace the soil with aged compost, quality top soil, and perlite. If the soil is just moist the next day, the rhizomes may have been damaged from the start.

The other thing to consider is if you dug down into the soil, planted the rhizomes below grade, and topped it with the planter and fill, the dig hole may have held water and drown the plants. You want the rhizomes to be at or slightly above grade inside the planter. Planting on a hill doesn't help drainage once the water infiltrates the soil. It only helps with surface drainage not internal soil drainage.
 
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myndflyte

myndflyte

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I missed the part about the planters. If you've already made boxes, then that is a raised bed Check it a day after a heavy rain or irrigation. It should be moist but not saturated. If it's saturated, you'll need to either amend or replace the soil with aged compost, quality top soil, and perlite. If the soil is just moist the next day, the rhizomes may have been damaged from the start.

The other thing to consider is if you dug down into the soil, planted the rhizomes below grade, and topped it with the planter and fill, the dig hole may have held water and drown the plants. You want the rhizomes to be at or slightly above grade inside the planter. Planting on a hill doesn't help drainage once the water infiltrates the soil. It only helps with surface drainage not internal soil drainage.
Well it's a box in a sense that there are 4 sides but no bottom. I always thought a raised bed had some sort of bottom but maybe not. Anyway, I just dug the box in a little so it sits below the grass line, then tilled up the soil inside the box, added top soil and tilled it up more to mix it. For planting the rhizomes, I made a mound and then planted them in the mound at what would be soil level.

But basically, 2 days after a rain, the top is dry but if I stick my finger in, about an inch into the ground, it feels saturated. So would mixing perlite in there help?

Or my idea was to pull the soil out, lay 2 inches of rocks and then cover the rocks with 8-10" of soil.
 

lump42

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Well it's a box in a sense that there are 4 sides but no bottom. I always thought a raised bed had some sort of bottom but maybe not. Anyway, I just dug the box in a little so it sits below the grass line, then tilled up the soil inside the box, added top soil and tilled it up more to mix it. For planting the rhizomes, I made a mound and then planted them in the mound at what would be soil level.

But basically, 2 days after a rain, the top is dry but if I stick my finger in, about an inch into the ground, it feels saturated. So would mixing perlite in there help?

Or my idea was to pull the soil out, lay 2 inches of rocks and then cover the rocks with 8-10" of soil.
Raised beds don't have to be raised off of the ground or have a bottom. Just that they are raised above grade. If it's off the grade I don't treat them as a raised bed, but as a large container.

Rock won't help. Water won't freely flow from the soil through the rock. You'll end up with a perched water table. Don't rely on just perlite. It works in with peat in a container because the peat particles are large and creates additional marcopores that drain water freely. The soil particles are much finer and the benefits of perlite will be short lived once the soil particles settle around the perlite. Then it's no different than a heavy clay soil with some fine gravel. The only long-term method to improve internal soil drainage on clay soils is to raise the organic matter content. Adding aged compost, manure, leaf mould, mushroom compost are all great and widely available options.

I'd dig out the planters to grade add 2 inches of organic matter. Incorporate that into the top six inches. Then top it with a mix of 50:50 top soil and compost.

If you get new rhizomes in next spring, they should be a creamy off-white with no black spots on them. If you buy plants, inspect the root before you plant them. They should be a off-white to tan. If there is a large portion of dark brown or black roots, I'd be questioning the company, maybe replacement plants or refund.
 

Kaz15

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I would like to also emphasize buying some new rooted plants asap and get them in this season. My first hop plant was a small rooted cascade that I obtained on a whim, for free in mid/late July 2015. It had enough time to grow about 10 feet before frost ended it's year. The following year it took off and I had a solid harvest.

Don't wait till next year! You'll be so far behind the curve.

I actually have a small test SMASH of Medusa/Multihead in fermenter right now. If the hop meets or exceeds my expectations, I'll be buying a plant from GLH as quickly as possible.
 
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myndflyte

myndflyte

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I would like to also emphasize buying some new rooted plants asap and get them in this season. My first hop plant was a small rooted cascade that I obtained on a whim, for free in mid/late July 2015. It had enough time to grow about 10 feet before frost ended it's year. The following year it took off and I had a solid harvest.

Don't wait till next year! You'll be so far behind the curve.

I actually have a small test SMASH of Medusa/Multihead in fermenter right now. If the hop meets or exceeds my expectations, I'll be buying a plant from GLH as quickly as possible.
Yeah I just placed my order through GLH and will work on getting the beds all good to go this week. Even if I don't get much production this year, at least I'll be in a position to take off next season.
 

Beerisgud

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Happy to see you are still giving it a go! Soil diversity is my favorite way to go along with healthy balance of things to make it able to clump in your hand but fall apart into small pieces by the poke of a finger. Also, hops love mulch. Mulch them lightly now or after sprouts show. Mulch an inch or two more once they are growing to help retain water (once your soil is draining well) and keep competing weeds at bay
 
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myndflyte

myndflyte

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Well I got to thank you @lump42 for the advice. Re-did the beds and drainage is much better now. I planted the hops I got from GLH 2 weeks ago and some are already making their way up the trellis.
 
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