It was a perfect storm that caused the Great Hop Shortage of 2008, said "Brew Your Own" magazine in a March/April 2008 article. That shortage inspired many home brewers to try their hand at growing hops in the garden or back yard. According to the blog at Beersmith.com, makers of software widely used in home and craft brewing, hops will grow in any moderate climate zone, which includes most of the United States. Aside from the right growing conditions, hops require strong trellis support in order to yield a large harvest.
Backyard Fence Trellis
At the University of Vermont, the Department of Plant and Soil Science grows hops on 13-foot high trellises, but suggests that a backyard fence can serve as a support for a small crop. The main requirement is a framework of sturdy, heavy twine to support the plants, which twine clockwise around their supports and cling to them by means of sharp hairs along the stem.
To create a trellis for growing hops along your back fence, space hooks or nails every seven feet along the top of the fence. Stretch coarse twine from each nail to a tent stake driven into the ground about a foot in front of the fence. Plant hops next to the stakes and, for best harvest, start training them to grow on the twine by the time they're two feet long.
Timber and Wire Trellis
If you have space in your backyard, a simple timber and wire trellis will provide the support that hops need to grow tall and healthy. Hop plants require six to eight hours of sun daily, so choose an area with a southern exposure. Since hop bines, the proper term for a single shoot from a hop plant, can grow up to 20 feet tall and weigh up to 9.07 Kilogram, use sturdy timbers like four-by-four inch pressure-treated posts as a vertical framework. Bury the posts at least three feet in the ground. Fasten heavy gauge wire along the tops of the posts and create the trellis by running heavy twine or rope from the wire to the ground. Use tent stakes to fasten the end of the twine to the ground. The hops will grow vertically along the ropes throughout the growing season.
Roof or Wall Trellis
If you have a south-facing wall, you can use your house or garage as a trellis support for growing hops. Simply install heavy-duty hooks into the wall or the roof, then run twine or rope from the hooks to the ground. Instead of tying the rope to the hooks, stake the rope to the ground, bring it up and over the hook, then stake the other end to the ground a couple of feet away from the first stake. As your hops start to grow, train them to grow along the twine by curling the ends of the bines around it.
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