Sunday, May 31, 2009

First watering in a week

According to the moisture meter, the moisture level of the soil in the pots has been slowly dropping, yet some areas still (oddly enough) register as Wet. I'm finding that hard to believe so I've decided to drop the highest and lowest moisture readings when trying to determine how moist the soil is. Since the temperature is supposed to reach into the low 90's today and neither plant has been given any water for about a week, I turned on the drip irrigation for 15mins for both plants this morning.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Three feet of growth in five days

I lowered the hop twine on both plants on Monday and Wednesday and this morning they were back up to the top again. That's about three feet of growth in five days! Here they are after lowering the twine... again.

I'm definitely going to have to think about a new trellis system or modify this one somehow. I like that its part of the pot which allows the entire plants to be moved with ease if necessary to adjust for sunlight (or hurricanes), but I'd like something that holds a bines a little more steady. I've got some ideas, I just need to actually try them.

The moisture meter is still indicating moisture levels of 5 ~ 9 in different areas and levels of the soil. I'm beginning to wonder how accurate it really is, but there must be some truth to it as I haven't watered the plants since Monday and they've obviously continued to grow. That would indicate there's been plenty of water for them in the soil, so I guess I had been over-watering without adequate drainage for the pots which is the most likely cause of the recent leaf discolouration.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Checked pH and Moisture level

I picked up a Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil pH Meter and the soil in both pots is at about 6.0. Hops grow best in soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5, so it is at the low end of what it should be. I drilled a few more holes in the bottom and sides of the pots and tested the moister level at various places and levels. The soil is still very moist in the lower half of both pots. I've left the irrigation system off since the weekend and there's no rain on the forecast, so I'll just continue to let the soil dry out for a few more days and see how the plants respond before watering or adding any additional nutrients.

On a good note, whatever the issue is, it hasn't appeared to really affect the growth of the main hop bines. The Cascade is once again nearing the top of the twine and the side arms on both plants are continuing to develop.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Strange leaf discolouration

Over the past couple of days, I've noticed this odd discolouration starting to affect some the young growth at the end of the bines and on the new side shoots. After doing research on some of the hop forums and general Internet searches, it sounds like a nitrogen deficiency, but I'm not sure. It could also be a sign of soil that is too wet. I've left the irrigation system off since the weekend and I'm going to let the soil dry out completely before turning it back on. I'm also going to drill some more holes into the bottom of the pots to ensure adequate drainage.

Cascade makes it to the top

The first Cascade bine reached the top of the twine this afternoon, only a few days after the Nugget. As I did with the Nugget, I lowered the twine and let the bines loop down, attaching them loosely to the pole to avoid any wind flappage. And, after lowering the twine at least a foot and a half three days ago, the Nugget bine had already reached back up to the top! If you check the photo in the post from a couple of days ago, you can see how much both bines grew over the past couple of days to reach the top.

These photos show the bines after I lowered both of them by 18" this evening. The Nugget on the left now has two loops hanging off the main pole. We'll see how quick they get back up to the top. Its great to see such fantastic growth rates.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A pest is laid to rest

I finally found what has been putting holes in the hop leafs lately. It alluded me for days, yet fresh leaf damage indicated something was still very active on the plant. I had even purchased a pesticide that's safe for plants and vegetables, but either it doesn't work or it has to be sprayed directly on the pest as the leaf damage continued. Finally, on Monday afternoon, I spotted the little bastard making his way up the twine, probably looking for new fresh leaves to eat. Hopefully it was the only one, but I'll keep my eye out for new leaf damage.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Nugget touches the top and third twines the charm for the Cascade

One of the Nugget bines reached the top of the hop twine this weekend with the other bine on that same twine about a foot behind it. Thanks to the handy trellis design from BYO Editor Chris Colby, providing more growth space was easy. I simply untied the twine, fed out about a foot and a half through the eye bolt on top of the pole and the twine and bines on it simply just drooped down beside the pot. I then added another eye bolt to the side of the pole and loosely tied the twine to it so the bines wouldn't get damaged by flapping around in the wind. However, I have a couple of ideas for hanging the loops of twine that would be better then just letting it hang down and eventually lay on the ground.

The Cascade is also continuing to do well and a new main bine has sprout up from the root. This adds to the already dozen or so side shoots that are growing off the main original bines. I had to add a third hop twine to the pot and one of the new bines is already starting to wind its way up.

Some of the side arms are really starting to develop and are actually beginning to resemble tiny little hop flowers.

I drilled some holes in the sides of the pots to test for soil moisture and the soil in the lower half of the pot seems to be pretty wet. I decided to turn off the irrigation system for a day or two and see if the soil dries out as I don't want to lose the plant due to root rot.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Side Arms

Here is a couple of a closeup photos of the two side arms that have grown at each of the intersection of the leaf stems and the main bine. If you click on the photo and view the full image, you can also see the small little hairs on the leaf stems and bine that the plant uses for grabbing and holding on to the twine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Increasing growth rate and many new shoots

The growth rate is really starting to pick up again. The tallest of the bines now reaches taller then I am up the twine. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to once it reaches the top of the pole. The original plan was to loosen the twine and let it loop down, but now I'm not sure if that would be good for the bine or not.

Both plants also have a lot of new bine shoots coming off the main existing bines. There's at least five new ones in this photo of the Cascade plant. I'm definitely going to have to add a third and possibly fourth twine for all the new shoots to climb.

I've also noticed side arms are beginning to develop along the bines at the junction of the bine and each leaf stem. These side arms are where the flowers or burrs will grow which develop into the hop cone. I'm taking this as a good sign that I may actually get some hop cones to harvest this year, but its way to early to tell for sure.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Solid growth, pots moved and fertilized

There's been significant growth since the last post two weeks ago. The Nugget now has a third bine climbing the twine. All three Cascade bines are now long enough to start climbing as well. A fourth shoot appears to be growing out of one the existing bines about two inches above the soil. The Cascade bines are significantly thinner then the Nugget and look almost delicate.

The daytime high has now started reaching into the low 90's and the humidity is climbing. Both pots have been on the South side of the house which receives full direct sun from dawn to dusk. I think the afternoon sun and heat will be too much as the summer approaches, so both pots were moved around the corner to the East side of the house. They now receive full sun until around 1:00pm when they fall into the shade of the house. This should provide adequate sunlight and protect the plants from the hottest direct rays.

Some of the lower leaves are yellowing with rust coloured spots. I'm not sure if that's damage from the heat, rain or lack of nutrients. Whatever the potential cause, I went ahead and fertilized both plants with some Miracle Grow fertilizer. Its about two months since they were planted, so the nutrients included in the potting soil may have been used up by the plants or watered out of the soil.