How to grow hop seeds

Hops, also called Humulus lupulus, is an herb most famous for its use as a beer ingredient. It's generally less difficult to grow hops from rhizomes (a root stem clipping from an adult hops plant), but growing from seeds produces much more genetic variety and a flavour that's specific to your growing area.

Hops grown from seeds will sometimes need a year or more before they can be harvested, but each plant has a high yield.

Soak your seeds for 24 hours, then mix them with a little damp sand in a plastic zip-lock bag. Keep them in the refrigerator for six weeks. Check the bag regularly to make sure no mould is growing. Hops seeds are cold-germinating, which means they sprout best in low temperatures. If the seeds begin to sprout before six weeks, you may plant them then.

Plant your seeds about 1/8 inch deep in nutrient-rich soil, where your plants will be able to get at least six hours of direct sun every day. Plant them at the base of a trellis or fence, where the vines will be able to climb. This must be done after the last frost for your area. Wait for the plant to reach about one foot in height.

Train the vine to grow along your trellis or fence by gently wrapping the tip of the plant around the structure's beams. This will encourage your hops to grow up along the support.

Water consistently so that soil is always moist but never muddy. Spread a thin layer of manure or fertiliser around the soil every month or so. Vines must be about 12 feet long before the female plants start to produce cones.

Pluck the cones off the vines once they have matured. Mature cones have a papery texture and give a little bit when squeezed. Harvested cones need to be dried right away.

Dry cones by baking at 60 degrees Celsius, while leaving the oven door open. Line cones directly on the rack and do not stack them. Keep baking until no more moisture remains.

Use the hops right away or freeze it in an airtight container until you're ready to use it.