Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Hop Experiment

I'm not sure about growing hops in the south, despite the success stories I've heard from fellow members of the Bluff City Brewers. I read an article in Brew Your Own magazine about growing them in containers and I had a pitifil looking plant so I decided to give it a try. My father-in-law designed the planter (and pretty much built it), I bought some potting mix and went over to my neighbor's house to dig up the hops. The plant started out as a rizome that somebody forgot to pick up at Midsouth Malts a couple of years ago and Kevin had put it in one of his planters and forgot about it.
To my surprise the thing has been growing right up the strings I attached to a small wooden rig I built to hold up the hop bines. I even had to rig up another, taller one, because the bines got so long.
But after seeing the hops growing at Phil and Jody Kane's place a week ago, I am a little bit disappointed. Phil has some pretty good hop cones on his plants already. Mine are just forming (I hope). I have dutifully watered the box daily. I have weeded the box. I have disuaded my dog from watering the box (I think it's too tall anyway). But I see only a few sprouts where the cones should be.
It might be that I have too many bines for the root system. It could be that the Memphis summer is just too scorching for the plant despite the serious amounts of water I have given.
The problem needs more study. Because free hops could do a lot to help the home beer budget.


  1. Possibly too many bines but this was just planted this year so the root stock/crown is re-establishing itself. You didn't say what hop variety it is - looks like my Magnum hops, compact folliage...

    Anyway being transpalnted this year will impede growth and generally lateral shoots don't really start growing until the hop bines have reached the top of their rope/trellis. They then release a hormone which promotes side shoots and hop production. Your hops will produce, make sure to feed them organically if possible as they require many nutrients to foster their amazing growth.

    I have 3 varieties I planted from rhizomes this year - Cascade, Nugget and Magnum.
    You can see them here:


  2. Good luck with the project! Let me know how it turns out, and I'll do a writeup on my blog to throw you a little publicity (yes, I cover beer as well, and unlike wine, homemade beer can be awesome).