We have enjoyed growing hops for years now because it is absolutely fascinating to watch them grow so vigorously, reaching lengths of up to 25 feet. Their use as ornamentals is limitless. They can be easily trained to grow up trellises to provide shade and privacy in the summer when itís hot, then because they die back in the fall, they are gone when we want all the sun we can get! I have seen them work really well trained to grow up poles to form a teepee.
The use of hops began as a kitchen herb, mentioned by the Roman scholar Pliny for its edible shoots, which are eaten in spring like asparagus. French and German brewers began using them to preserve and flavor their beers in the ninth and tenth centuries. Bavarian Hops became famous by the eleventh century, but it wasnít until the sixteenth that the English replaced their traditional bitter herbs (Alehoof and Alecost) with hops. The Massachusetts Company introduced them to North America in 1629, but it took until 1800 before it was an important field crop. The end of the Eastern U. S. market came in the 1920s with a major out break of downy mildew. Today most hops are grown in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California. Hops have a long history of medicinal uses as well. Probably the most popular being its use as a sedative due to the substance called lupulin.
To use it as an aid for insomnia and restlessness the dried flower cones can be
used in tea or stuffed in a hop pillow.
To make a hop pillow: Simply stuff a small muslin bag with some dried hop flowers,
first sprinkling them with either alcohol, water or scented oil to reduce the
crunchy sound. Other fragrant herbs may also be added to your pillow such as
mint and chamomile or add mugwort for dreams too.
To make hop tea: Pour one cup boiling water over 1/2 - 1 tsp. of dried hops
and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Can add honey and drink hot at bedtime.
Hops are unisexual, only the female hops produce the flowers used in brewing. All rhizomes we offer are female. As the female flower matures, they form cone-like structures. The mature cones are 1 to 3 inches long, yellowish green and papery to the touch. They are generally harvested in August and September dried and used for brewing, medicinal or ornamental uses.
HELPFULL LINKS ABOUT HOPS
Wikipedia Their hops page has all kinds on information about hops. Their history, biology, specific varieties etc.
There is some great information from the OSU Extension Service and the Oregon Hops Commission about growing hops at this site...
Brewer's Friend is an awesome website with just about everything you want to know about brewing beer to how to build your own brew house. Check it out! www.brewersfriend.com
Growing Hops in New England - (University of Vermont Extension System) - Good information about growing hops.
North Carolina Hops Project - NC State University Hops Research and Variety Trial is experimenting with how well various varieties of hops will do in North Carolina.
University of Kentucky Extension Service - College of Agriculture - Great information about growing hops.
EXPERIENCES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY GROWING HOPS
One of our often asked questions is "Which hop rhizomes will do best where I live?" Even though my wife and I traveled through most of the states back in the sixties in our hippie van I don't remember enough about the growing conditions of every state to help me make those recommendations. Actually we had things other than hops on our minds at the time. So we sent a request along with our hundreds of hop orders this year and asked if they'd be willing to take the time to share their experiences with growing hops in there area of the country. This might be more accurate than me guessing. I'll be adding their stories below as we get them.
I live in Phoenix, AZ, weíre at the 33rd parallel. Hops are said to grow between the 35th and 55th, whether north or south, so Iím about 100miles out of range. Iíve been attempting to grow them here for about 4yrs now. Iíve attempted both in the ground and containers, having more success with containers just because I can move them around a bit if necessary. Last year was the best year Iíve had as I actually got a crop. I ended up with 1.75oz after drying. Iíve never been able to get actual hops growing beforeÖ just the bines.
The biggest issue Iíve had is getting them to survive over the winter. They either get to much water or not enough but always end up rotting in the ground. This last year I grew 5 different varieties; CASCADE, CENTENNIAL, CHINOOK, NUGGET and MAGNUM. Magnum by far did the best. Iíve tried centennial every year and it seems to do well here, thatís why I stick with it. Cascade did really well here too. All these varieties did well here until it hits about 105F, then growth practically stops. Once it gets over 110F and stays there for a bit youíll start to lose them. If hops are grown in the areas theyíre supposed to be, they need all day sun, but Iíve found here in PHX, they need shade all afternoon, and lots of water. I watered everyday, usually about 1 gallon per container. I had 2 plants sitting on a Southern exposure, and the other 3 on an Eastern exposure. They all did equally well concidering the East side got full afternoon shade and the South got heavily filtered afternoon shade from a mature mesquite tree. I also tied the lines up to the roof line, so for the South side they ran up 8ft and the East side ran along a slope, so about 8ft up to 15ft. Once they all hit the roof line, I cut them off and they all sent out shoots sideways and filled in a bit. They had a 50/50 mix of potting soil and homemade compost. They were also heavily mulched with alfalfa.
It has been very challenging, especially the over wintering, if I can get them to survive into a second year and get stronger I think they could do well here. Its getting them established thatís been tough. I will also mention that if they donít make it this winter Iím not going to spend anymore time trying to grow them here, its been a lot of time/effort and Iíll have to accept that they werenít meant to grow in PHX.
(1) I have planted both Cascade and Nugget rhizomes from Thyme Garden. I'm in Southern California in Orange County. So far after two years the Nugget hops have done very well, while the Cascade have not been stellar. I think the Cascade got a disease last year and were somewhat stunted in their growth with very small cones. But the Nuggets have been spectacular. I planted them alongside my house in some sandy soil. This last season I added a 50/50 mix of compost and worm cuttings in early spring. The hops seemed to like it because they grew well over 20ft and I had no problems with mildew, fungus, or whiteflies all season. Cheers, John
(2) I ordered 5 varieties of rhizomes from the Thyme Garden in October 2007 at the peak of the hops shortage. They arrived in March 2008, and despite my location in Southern California below the latitude where hops are supposed to grow well, I manage to get a good harvest out of my Cascade plant every August. To me, the start of spring is seeing the hop shoots poke up through the ground, and my single plant quickly becomes the king of the garden over the 4-5 months that follow. It grows like a weed and I've never had a problem with pests. Cheers Jared
(3) I live in Cupertino in the foot hills (just south of San Francisco). These hops get some morning and mid day sun. They get very little late day sun.
Soil is clay so I have added heavy amounts of chicken compost and a bit of sand for drainage. Ever few months I top of the ground with manure. I fertilize with fish compost when the vines are growing fast.
I only use drip irrigation.
I purchased and planted Cascade, Sterling and Willamette hops.
I got a strong harvest of each vine. Each rose over 15 ft tall and I was harvesting in mid August.
No issues at all.
Cascade came on stronger. Sterling disappeared (dug up ground and could not find rhizome) Willamette did very well.
I did not test my hops but the Willamette seems to have a very high AA%. It made some wonderful hoppy beers that I have not been able to replicate with 10% store bought hops.
I purchased and planted two Magnum. They did well but not a big first harvest. Large cones!
I purchased and planted three Zeus. These are the same as Columbus right?
Already I can see Cascade with three shoots. It's ready to grow big time! No sign of Willamette yet (no concern) and Magnums are starting to grow.
1. Mark your hops with a sign. I hear of too many issues with guys forgetting what is planted where.
2. Cascade seems to love it here (95014). All grow well. I don't know what happened to Sterling :-(. That was the base of my German Lager German.
3. Having the right soil with good drainage makes your hops happy.
East of San Diego
(4) The 3 Chinook rhizomes arrived yesterday in good shape, much larger & robust than those they replaced...already planted & ready to grow!
Great service & Thank You!
I live in Southern California, in the hills east of El Cajon, 20 miles east of San Diego, @ 1600 feet elevation, with warm summers (usually in the 80's & 90's during the summers, with an occasional low 100's) I've planted 8 different kinds of hops. Both Chinook & Magnum produced heavily, with Cascade & Centenial also producing well. Northern brewer did well, with very small cones. Nugget & Saaz are doing ok. The Fuggle has yet to produce, & this will be it's third season. I use individual bubbler heads for watering each basin, using well water. The hops are planted on a terraced hillside, facing south-west, full-sun, getting late afternoon shade from large trees below. With some of the plantings, I built a 12" raised bed due to drainage issues I discovered after digging 18" holes for planting (clay in soil?). I used 12" chicken wire 'baskets' to protect from gophers, also had to install a chain-link fence to protect from rabbits. The hops are planted in like pairs, about four feet apart, with a 10 1/2 ft. high 14' x 21' trellis system made out of recycled 1" iron pipe. I use hemp twine to support the vines, installed each spring as the vines grow. Last year was my first harvest from the two-year old hops vines. Thanks again, Randy
(1) The summer of 2011 will be my 7th season growing hops. I have 21 plants (14 varieties) in my garden plot in Boulder, CO which is a dry and semi-arid climate. The plants receive full sun and grow vertically up 14ft posts with a narrow cylinder of fencing attached (think of a staked 14ft tomato cage). I cut all new growth back until about April 15th and then limit the each plant to 5 bines. Dry weight is measured after the cones sit in a homemade drying oast.
I have kept fairly accurate records over the last six years and have summarized my results from only mature three to six year old plants into three groups.
High Producers (2-3.5 lbs of dried cones per plant): Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, Mt Hood. Columbus gives me the most bang for my buck in terms of alpha acid% and production, which usually tops 3.5 lbs dry weight. Holy Cow, Columbus is prolific!
Moderate Producers (1-2 lbs of dried cones per plant): Willamette, Tettnanger, US Goldings, Sterling, Hallertau
Low Producers (Less than 1 lb of dried cones per plant): Perle, Saaz, Northern Brewer. These three varieties are notoriously fickle and don't seem to like the constant sunshine of a Western summer. I am happy with anything they provide.
(2) Colorado Springs Hi, I purchased Fuggles and Willamette's. I started them in pots around mid april, then transplanted them memorial day weekend. I put two rhizomes in each pot, read on line that was the way to do it, I would not suggest this. When transplanting them to my planter, the roots were all entwined and had to be ripped apart. They survived but didn't like it. They shot up nicely in the pot, but didn't move after transplanting them till July. Some did ok, I got cones on two of the Fuggles, but that was it, the vines did shoot up on most as you can see. But this is the first year, so, should be better next year.
I live in Newark, Delaware. According to the Farmers Almanac, we are considered region 2 the Atlantic Corridor, which basically extends from Richmond Virginia to Boston.
Last year I planted your cascade and centennial hops in great soil on the south side of my house up a trellis and string, where they get blasted with sun all day long. I planted them a couple days after receiving them the first week in April during frequent rain. I watered them weekly for a month and a half, and then not again until late summer following a dry spell lasting over a month. Both did fine. I even harvested close to 5 oz dried. The centennials came back a little over a week ago, while the cascades just emerged yesterday.
They were used for dry hopping and it tasted great! Hope this helps and thanks again for the hops! - Bill
I did not buy my hop rhizomes from you, as I got several for free from a friend, but the only thing that is surviving GA climate and producing well is the Pearle, which seems to also be somewhat pest resistant. I have also tried liberty, nuggets, and centennial (surviving but not producing so far...)
We just received our rhizomes for the fourth year from you! thanks!!
We are in the ohio valley in southern indiana and we are in our fourth year of hop growing. We began with chinook and cascade and they do very well! Last year we began with brewer's gold and have bought more this season. We are also experimenting with stering and zeus this year.
Wilamette and fuggle are NOT good in this area. No production. The problems we do have are junebugs which we hope to keep down with milkey spore and the heat/humidity did a number on our crops last year.
We are small hobby farmers and the brewery which i work for brews an annual harvest ale each year with our freshly picked hops. We also sell to local homebrew suppliers. We really do enjoy hop farming even if we are on small scale.
Hope this information helps you!
Colleen and Matt
We ordered hops from you in April of this year (2011), and planted May 1. (We just moved in, and were a bit late getting our garden started.) You asked for feedback on how the hops grew so, since we're getting ready to harvest, here's how we did in Radnor, just outside of Philly, Pennsylvania:
The two centennial rhizomes we planted didn't do great: they sprouted, and grew short vines, but were never QUITE long enough to twine - hopefully, now that the root structure has developed a little, we'll get a better crop next year. The Magnum and the Columbus that we planted, on the other hand, grew like gangbusters - probably seven to ten feet per vine. The Magnum did not flower this year but, again, we have high hopes for next year. One of the two Columbus vines DID flower, though, and we have probably two or three dozen cones. Success!
I appreciate you guys taking the time to grow your rhizomes organically, thanks for helping us out with our garden this year.
First off, I live in the Iowa City, IA area. Last year I purchased 4 different rhizomes: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Northern Brewer. I planted them on 4/4/2010 and on 4/23/10 I noticed shoots growing from the Centennial, Chinook and Northern Brewer. The Cascade never grew, but I think it wasn't a very healthy rhizome to start. I removed the sod where I planted the rhizomes, mixed in about 100 lbs of composte/manure mix, planted the rhizomes according to directions, and covered w/ straw. As they grew, I trimmed the shoots to leave the 3 strongest/healthiest shoots. The Centennial & Chinook did very well and reached the top of my 12 foot poles. I think they would have grown taller if I had a taller set up. They both had very large cones with lots of lupulin. The Northern Brewer only ended up growing to about 6-7feet and despite trimming the shoots, ended up looking more like a bush. I would say I got about 2 ounces dried weight in cones from each of the three hops.
This year I ordered a Zeus and Hallertauer rhizome that both look great. Looking forward to getting them started & having a large crop this year. I plan to set up some guide wires/lines to allow them to reach 25 feet this year!
Thanks & cheers! Luke
(1) Calvert County, Maryland In response to your newsletter, we planted hops for the first time this year. We bought rhizomes from 3 different vendors, bought 3 different varieties, for a total of 36 plantings. We bought from you: 2 CASCADE EXTRA LARGE and 2 WILLAMETE EXTRA LARGE. Being new at this, and trying to raise our hops poles, we delayed planting the rhizomes. I put the Willamette hops in dirt and let them begin to sprout outside, and the cascades went into the fridge. When I did plant the Willamette, I planted them too deep. I didnít realize this until I went to plant the second variety of plants and reread the instructions. The cascades went in last, a couple weeks later. The Willamette rhizomes that I planted too deep took the longest to pop through the dirt. It was May or June before I finally saw them come out. The cascades on the other hand, came forth strong. Two of my cascades had noticeably thicker vines and were stronger plants than anything else I put in the ground. As I think about it, those must have been your extra large rhizomes we bought. Of all the plants I think those 2 cascades produced the best this first year.
We didnít start picking until late July, but by that time, some of the flowers had already turned brown. I believe we should have started early to mid July. Your cascades had the largest flowers of all the plants we grew. And those plants kept producing until the weather got too cool. I think we finally cut them back just after the hurricane Ė in October. And the flowers stayed on the plants through the hurricane!
As I said, I planted 36 plants, and maybe two-thirds of those sprouted. So we had a lot of failures. But your extra large rhizomes did great, despite my first-timer planting mistakes!
Thank you! Cherry
(2) Hop report!
We live near Wayland, MI, which is in southwest Michigan, about 1 hour east of Lake Michigan and 1.5 hours north of Indiana (halfway between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids).
We planted two Cascade and two Fuggles rhizomes from you early this year. All sprouted and grew consistantly. We weren't sure where the best place in our yard would be, so we put one of each in two different locations. As it turned out, one spot didn't get as much sun as we thought, so those two grew more slowly (we are going to move them to a better location in the spring), but the other two grew quite well in a very sunny location. The Cascade even had some flowers! I have a feeling the Fuggles in that spot would have as well, but something ate it, so we'll have to work on critter deterence next year.
Thanks for the great plants!
Here is the report you requested with my order of hops last Spring (2010). I planted one Cascade and one Hallertaur rhizome in Lincoln Nebraska. The Hallertaur grew to three feet with some side branching. The Cascade grew the 12 feet of the trellis and doubled back on itself. I harvested about a half gallon of hops, some of which were 2 inches long, most were about 1 inch long. We had an unusually wet year, a couple of weeks with temps in the 100 degree range in July, and a milder than usual August, with high humidity and temps in the high 80s. I harvested the end of August. I am anxious to see what happens next year. Thank you. Hope this helps. Vickie
Hello Thyme people,
The Cascade hop rhizome I had ordered in the winter arrived today (3/21/2011). It arrived in very good shape. Also, the seeds that you sent earlier arrived in only two days. That was quick!
I am responding to your request to track how the hops grow in various places in the United States. I live in upstate New York near some foothills in zone 5a. Our soil is heavy clay and rocky. I planted the rhizome today. Fortunately the frost had just gone out in that spot this week. We did get about 4 inches of snow last night, but I scraped the snow away and dug the hole. The soil was perfect for planting hops. I dug down about a foot and put some chicken manure in the hole, mixed it with some soil, put a layer of regular soil above that, then planted the rhizome. I covered the rhizome with regular soil. I put a long slender 1/8 inch wire right alongside of the rhizome leading up to the trellis horizontal lines.
I have had some hops growing along the back side of my garden for some time (Hallertauer & Tettnanger ), but never did anything with them. They survive, but they do not ďthrive.Ē They are near the edge of some trees and I believe they could not compete very well, so last year I relocated a rhizome to the berry garden under a trellis. I also ordered and planted a Willamette hop rhizome as well. At that point I had never heard of your company, so the hop I ordered was from a large seed company. That rhizome came as a very small rhizome, but it did grow. It really struggled, though. My transplant did far better and was about 3 times larger than the ordered plant by the end of the season.
It will be interesting to track the rhizomes last year with the one I ordered from your company for this year. Your rhizome was even in better shape than the one I dug up from my garden fence. I have a feeling, however, that my heavy clay soil is going to be detrimental to their speedy development. But I will do everything I can to make them thrive. I do not expect the newly planted rhizome to grow as fast as the 1 year olds, but I can still track the difference in how it grows relative to how the other two did last year.
I do not know if this will help you, but I cannot grow grapes here. They die back to the ground every year. That is why I had room for the hops, the grapes never could survive the winter in that spot so I figured I could use the trellis for hops. I make beer, so I thought, ďwhy not!Ē I like Sierra Nevada beer and they use Willamette and Cascade hops. I canít wait to use them for my Imperial Oat Stout that I make from grains.
Thank you for your prompt service and quality plants. I will let you know how they grow throughout the year. Ray
Maumee, OH (Toledo suburb) Well, today concluded the bulk harvest of my first year hops from Thyme Garden. I planted Hallertauer and Mt Hood for low AA varieties and Nugget and Zeus for high AA figuring even if they grow together I know the west plants are low AA and the east plants high AA.
All of them grew better than I expected. People say first year plants work on growing roots and don't show much above ground. Either those people didn't have strong rhizomes like Thyme Garden sells or I'm vastly underestimating what hops can do or something. I didn't get my planned trellis up so these became beautiful hop bushes - when they reached the top of the 6' bamboo poles they put out new bines near the bottom and grew up around the existing and kept repeating this. Actually they're quite nice to look at. To be honest I stalled on putting up the trellis so I didn't look like the moron with a beautiful huge trellis and a few spindly bines - by the time I needed the trellis it was too late.
Halletauer - great bine growth - 2 main shoots came up but great full look - approximately 3' wide x 2' deep x 6' tall - lots of small cones - 2 cones every 5 inches but cones only the size of blueberries
Mt Hood - modest bine growth - 3 shoots came up - approximately 2' wide x 2' deep x 6' tall - larger cones (large grape size) sporadically spaced, lots of double cones (one stem, 2 cones)
Nugget - minimal bine growth - 3 shoots came up - approximately 1' wide x 1' deep x 5' tall - large cones (large grape size) sporadically spaced, at most 3 together
Zeus - good bine growth - 2 shoots came up - 2' wide x 2' deep x 6' tall - medium cones (large blackberry size) - groups of 6-15 in a bunch
And even if I don't have enough to brew with it was worth it for the satisfaction of my hands smelling like hops after picking all those beautiful hop cones :-D
My initial advice would be to skip Nugget in Ohio - not sure if it's the heat or humidity or what but they just didn't thrive like the others.