Hops Farm Update June 2010

Posted on June 9, 2010 by

Hops 4 Feet TallIt has been 2 months since I visited the hops farm in Minnesota and I have to say I am extremely excited with what I see and totally daunted with what needs to be done.

My wife and I are avid lake goers, so it isn’t to far out of our way to spend a couple hours at the hops farm before we make it to our final destination. This past weekend we headed down, grabbed some hoes and started working. I think its important to note a couple of things here.

The farm we are working on, if your familiar with the first article, Romance in the Hop Yard, is Jay’s land where he has planted 100 hop plants, installed some telephone poles and strung some wire for them to grow up. This land was stripped and turned into farm land for hops last year after being prairie, a pasture and a potato farm all of its life. No minerals, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers etc have been put into the soil. Jay is going for the all natural feel. He even told me he used a plow on the field…”Who still uses a plow”, he said when I was talking about the farm.

Anyway, because of all these reasons this field is your typical un-treated farm land in the Upper Midwest. There is wild grass and thistles the size of trees growing in our field. Believe it or not, the little hop plants are still poking through. So my wife and I rolled up our sleeves and got to work. In about 3 hours we completely cleared about a one foot radius around 20 or so plants. It was hard work but worth it. I especially enjoy exercise that is productive, not just running in place for an hour. So many weeds and so many hop plants to save from the evil clutches of thistles.

Some of you have asked me about our field and how we are going about raising our plants. In a little candid email interview with Jay about his reasoning behind the hops yard, I got an extremely humbling response that I couldn’t agree with more.

“It’s about getting busy people to take time to stop. To get the hell off the internet, computer, iphone, ipad, ionlythinkaboutme thing and out deep into the love of prairie Earth to dig around and share some fresh air, bug bites, laughs, good food, great beer and everlasting memories.”

Thistles in the fieldThat my friends is why I pull thistles on a Friday night at the lake. I witnessed my wife’s frustrated and unhappy mood completely take a 180 once she had a homebrew and started working in the yard. I could not get her to stop. She was feeling extremely sorry for the “little hoppies” and just kept digging them out. It is amazing what a good brew and some time in the hop yard will do for a person. It is intoxicating. So I thank Jay for giving me this opportunity to work in the hops yard.

Some plants are about 6 feet tall now and working their way up the straps. We’ve had a minor set back with our setup. The strings won’t stay in place so they tend to bunch up. We are hoping the weight and roots of the plant will prevent that in the future, but we may look into adding something for next year. These plants are on their second year, so it will be interesting to see how big they get. The test plants next to Jay’s garage are already up to the eaves, almost 10 feet.

I’m already formulating an IPA for these hops. I think I’ll call it…Hop Yard IPA.

How are your plants doing? Hops or not. I haven’t gardened before. I can see why it is so addicting to some people.

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  • Brett

    Dude, those look great! I've had mine in the ground for maybe 3 weeks and haven't seen anything break the surface yet. Getting worried I kept them in the fridge too long. BTW, yard work + drinking home brew is a great combination.

  • mikebiewer

    Thanks man.

    Where do you live? I'm assuming this is the first year you have had them? I believe they will take a bit of time and they may get to be a foot tall. Nothing to crazy in the first year. Its year two the really shoot up and I think for the next few years they get bigger and bigger and produce more hops until a certain point. I'm still learning about it. It is really fun and exciting though!

    Thanks for the comment. How many plants do you have? Where did you plant them? What kinds!

    Mike

  • http://www.DrinkHomeBrew.com Brett

    Sounds like I'm just being impatient. We live in Cincinnati, so a bit different climate than you have in Minnesota. Planted Cascade and Kent Goldings — pictures here of where I planted in my backyard (I spent weeks scoping out the perfect spot) – http://www.drinkhomebrew.com/how-to-guides-4/gr….

  • mikebiewer

    Brett,

    Nice!

    My only thought is that you might have waited to long to plant. Putting them in in April may have helped. I think they will still grow, its just going to be a slow start. But then again, I'm no hops pro…yet…

    Good luck, and please keep me updated!

    Mike

  • completegeek

    I'm just amazed you got your wife to do something outside. Mine would roll around in a human sized hamster ball just so she wouldn't have to actually come in contact with the outdoors.

  • mikebiewer

    Oh yea!

    My wife loves this kind of thing. Which is perfect because I don't have to do all this stuff myself. Maybe you could convince your wife that there are a lot of health benefits to actually getting into nature and doing some work. I simply can't pass up the opportunity to work in the field.

    Its so weird. I really think the world is eventually going to circle around on itself. So many people love modern life and the conveniences that it allows. But so many people are sick of how demanding it is…Imagine if we all just slowed down…That is why I work in the field.

    Thanks for the post. Get your wife a beer and a shovel!

    Mike

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