Here is the quick and dirty on how to grow your own hops. First, you’ll need rhizomes. Second, you’ll need soil. Third you’ll need water and a whole lot of patience. Additional items like fertilizer, compost or manure may aid in getting your stems to break soil. Once you break soil, you will need to build (or find) a trellis, secure poles and/or vines in order to keep the bines happy.
There’s a few ways to get rhizomes. Maybe you already know a homebrew or a farmer who has a successful crop of hops. Maybe you can work out a deal to get some female rhizomes for free. Luckily, for the rest of us who aren’t blessed with such friends there are several places to order from online. Your homebrew shop may also carry them, though Derek at My Local Homebrew Shop in Falls Church is currently sold out for the year.
Several popular sites to purchase rhizomes:
Adventures in Homebrewing – rhizomes
You should evaluate what kinds of hops are best for the climate you plant in. For example, when I ordered my rhizomes from Northwest Hops, I consulted their chart on hop characteristics to make sure my selections would do well in a warmer climate. I chose Cascade (amongst other varietals) which are well known for being a hearty class of hops.
Before digging dirt you should take note of the areas that get lots of morning and early afternoon sun. Take note of shady spots during the hottest time of day. An ideal place to plant is one that gets morning and early afternoon sun yet remains shady throughout the hottest hours.
Techniques on how to plant and grow your hops differ, so you should really do your research before planting. Think about how many sprouts you will let develop and how often you will trim the rest back. Think about where you will string your lines and where you can let your bines climb.
If you are brand new to the idea of growing your own hops at home, some good additional resources may be found here and here.
Do you already have your rhizomes planted or are you waiting to break ground? Are you just buying your first rhizomes now or are you going into your 10th growing season? Let us know below and happy planting!