Grow (h)OP – Urban Hop Growing (Part 2)

growHopWith my last update, we were about a week into my hop growing adventure and these plants for sprouting fast and furious. By one week in the hop bines on both the chinook and saaz plants were not just poking their way out, they were already small plants, with foliage building up around them. Its exciting to see something grow that quickly right in front of you, and even weeks later, these plants show no intent of slowing down.



Within 10 days of planting, these plants were ready to be trained to the hop twine. Its really not a particularly difficult task, and if you do things right your bine will be sprouting from a place that naturally leads them to your twine. That was the case for my chinook plants. They sprouted right in the middle of my planter and started to grow out directly verticle from that point. It was only a matter of waiting before a couple of the vines reached the rope, and with a very light touch I was able to wrap the ends around the twine and we were off.

Hops 10 days in

At 10 days in, the Saaz (left) and Chinook (right) vines are long enough to reach the hop twine

The saaz grew out in a slightly odd manner. Planting the crown as a little confusing as it was simply a root structure, with no clear top or bottom to it, so its very easy to plant upside down as its not clear where the plant will naturally grow from. Apparently, in all my wisdom, I planted the saaz on its side, and the bines started to grow in on an angle, AWAY from the trellis and hope twine. This made me a little nervous, as the bines were just naturally sprouting right up against the side of the planter. Luckily, the saaz is quite resilient, and very eager to grow, so without much difficulty I was able to reroute the largest two bines to the trellis and spiral them up.

It was only a few days later when the Saaz vine was a good couple feet tall and I realized that I needed to adjust my trellis system. I took the advice of and added arms to my trellis system, allowing me was weave the twine back and forth as I let more twine down. Its been a great system so far and I’m incredibly thankful for the assistance.

At the 3 week mark, my hop plants have truely shown what they are made of. The first Saaz vine has reached the top of my 6 foot trellis and I’ve had to let it down 18 inches to give it more room to climb. There is a second Saaz bine that is following the first slowly, but its still about a full foot behind. On the chinook plant, I have three bines that are going a bit slower than the Saaz, but all three are going in pace with eachother. The first two bines are about 24 inches from the top of the trellis, and will likely hit within the next week. The third is only about 8 inches behind, but its still strong and consistant.

Saaz Reaches the top

At only 3 weeks in the ground, the Saaz vine reaches the top of the trellis.

While these first few bines seem to be growing quite strongly, a number of smaller, thin vines are growing at the bottom of the plant. With my main bines growing so well, its important to go back and clear away these thinner bines. My planters are really not that big (about 2 feet deep) and the root structure for the few bines I’m keeping will easily fill these things. Trimming back these smaller bine will help ensure successful growth throughout the coming months.

At this point, its looking like these plants are growing close to one foot per week, and I’m starting to get concerned that I’m going to run out of twine well before any cones start forming on these plants. I’ve also seen a few glimpses of aphids on my tomato plants, so I need to keep that in check, as I’ve read that they are very fond of hop plants. So far, other than a couple of spots on the leaves, I haven’t had any trouble with insects.

Chinook keeping pace

The Chinook has two bines that are neck and neck

Real summer weather is starting in LA, and with this heat comes the constant need to water and maintain these plants. At 3 weeks in I’m only watering about once a week, as I’m taking the ‘drench’ and ‘draught’ method. But the last few hot days have proved to me that this might not work long term, and I’ll have to make sure I’m constantly watching moisture levels.