So, I am going to give growing my own hops a try this year. How many of you guys grow your own hops and what does your "garden" setup look like? I am thinking of installing a 20' flag pole and running 3 ropes from about 4-6' from the flag pole to the top for each hop plant. I was going to put pulleys at the top for each and run the ropes down to where I could reach them to tie off the end. I think this will allow me to "drop" the ropes when harvesting.
I would appreciate any experience and input as I don't want to screw this one up.
Joined: 05 May 2013 Posts: 5 Location: Coronado, CA
Link Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 4:38 am Post subject: homegrown hops
Wow ateene, I'm envious! That looks like a professional hop farm.
I have been growing Chinook and Centennial in San Diego, CA for 3 years now. I grow them along 3 sides of the yard, all with different sunlight, and the side with about a half day of direct sun seems to do the best, though the best growing plants last year aren't the same as the best this year, and there is sometimes a lag between different plants in the same season. They are incredibly robust, and seem to grow despite my wildly varied attention.
I water mine every day or every other day, using cleaned-out 96 ounce orange juice jugs with a tiny hole drilled in the bottom for a drip mechanism.
I use hemp twine to run them vertically to the top of the fence, and then run the twine horizontally. To avoid too many on the same twine, I sometimes run parallel horizontal strings. They can grow incredibly fast so you should regularly twist them on the twine to keep them from sagging under their own weight.
When you twist them around the twine/string, be somewhat gentle. The rough texture makes them grip on other bines and you can kink it, which stops it from growing.
similarly, if you cut the tip of the bine, it will stop growing. Side sprouts can still emerge, so not all is lost.
The very tip looks like a thin bud until the hop cones start to flower in force, at which point a "terminal hop cone" grows. It is usually, if not always, the biggest one.
The cones on one bine aren't all synched up perfectly, but you can wait until the earliest flowers are a little dryer so that the majority are just right. A little papery when you squeeze them.
I have tried drying the cones three ways, with varying success. I put my first batch in a borrowed food dehydrator, and that worked pretty well, but the size is limited. The second attempt used an oven at 175-200F, and they immediately started to smell bad. I mean really bad. I was afraid the oven would never recover. Next I tried using a window screen and drying them in the sun outside. It took two days to get them as dry as I felt they would get, and I had to put them indoors for the evening between the two drying days, so it wasn't perfect. I'm hoping others have found a good drying method.
I use a foodsaver, which crushes them into a super flat sheet. Still experimenting with the best way to form the vacuum sealed bag ideally for storage.
Hops ready for picking. Some are starting to turn yellow, which I suspect means they are past their prime.
This is the tip of the bine, which you should not cut.
Joined: 30 Nov 2013 Posts: 5 Location: Madison, WI
Link Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 5:43 pm Post subject:
We dry our hops using the screen technique with a gentle box fan blowing over the hops in the garage. The garage smells for days of hops afterward, but it's the best and easiest way to dry the 25+ pounds we grow. Remember that hops have lots of aromatic oils in them and some are lost when temperatures climb over 100 degrees F. This of course won't matter if you are using the hops in the boil, (because they will be lost/evaporate into the air) but if you are using them to dry hop a beer, you may want to keep the temperatures of those hops under 100 degrees F during the drying process. Think of them like drying flowers, they're fairly delicate and the oil compounds are easily broken.
Joined: 30 Nov 2013 Posts: 5 Location: Madison, WI
Link Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:00 am Post subject:
What kind of desiccant are you talking about? I'm thinking of the type that are in packaged food to suck the moisture out, except on a much bigger scale. On that, I have never heard of anyone using this to dry hops. How many hops are you drying anyway? If it is under 40lbs, you could use the screen door and box fan technique, given that the hops are different varieties and will mature at different times, allowing you to rotate out the dried ones for the wet hops. I don't know how expensive a desiccant would be, especially that large, but I would wager it is much more expensive than discarded screens and a few box fans. Another problem with the desiccant would be that you would need a totally seals area for it to work (think of the packaged food bag), if there isn't a totally sealed area with the hops, then you would just be sucking moisture out of the normal air, including the rest of the house, the outdoors, everywhere. If you want to speed up the drying time, keep the hops on the screen with the box fans and add a dehumidifier, as long as the room can be closed off, i.e. your unfinished basement or tightly sealed garage. I will say though, that it probably won't make a huge difference and if your doing it on the cheap, figure in the extra energy costs associated with running a dehumidifier 24 hours for a few days.
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum You cannot attach files in this forum You can download files in this forum