November 19, 2012

Hop Garden Follow Up

This year I had committed to building a nicer garden and making a more serious attempt than I made last year to grow hops. (The build appears here.) Overall I was dissatisfied with the development -- I got no hop cones -- but I am holding out hope that I have some good root crowns in the dirt for next year.

I planted four varieties: cascade, sterling, nugget and mt. hood. The cascade never made it more than a few inches before it died off. The sterling actually had some great bine growth for a while but once the locusts set in early summer it struggled to grow back from that terrible plague. The mt. hood also had some decent growth but never got more than four feet off the ground. The nugget also performed poorly, getting only about eighteen inches off the ground.

I'm a pretty bad gardener, so I'm not too surprised I didn't do well. I should have done a better job of keeping them fertilized and I need to figure out a better method to keep the locusts away from the plants. Next spring I will probably try to enclose the garden with mesh. My rosemary bush did well and my pepper and tomato plants did ok initially but once the summer heat set in they stopped producing to then start up late summer. Now we are reaching cold weather and I have all these half-grown tomatoes that are probably not going to make it all the way to maturity. The bell pepper and hatch chiles produced a little but the cold is sapping their strength so what's on the plants now will likely be the end. Only the jalapenos are proudly giving the cold nights (upper 30s) the cold shoulder (terrible pun) and growing tall and proud.

Next year I will take another stab at cascade and replant some more peppers early in the season. I debate back and forth with myself about leaving out the peppers so the hop plants have unfettered access to the sun but once it hits triple digits in the summer I think the ground shade is important to keeping the roots cool. By that time the hops should be several feet in the air and should have no problem getting sun on the leaves.

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