Friday, April 30, 2010

End of the Line

The Cascade bine has now reached the end of the line at the top of the pole which makes it over 15 feet in length. Not sure what I'm going to do with it now, but I guess I could just keep letting out more twine from the top and let it droop down. I figured the bines which eventually reach the top, just not so quickly.

More hop cones are continuing to develop on the Cascade and the existing ones are getting quite large. Some of the bines on the Nugget are starting to grow side arms now which will lead to hop cones as well.

While doing my daily check of the plants, I found a few of these little pests on some of the leaves. I noticed small holes starting to develop in some of the leaves and this explains why. I must have killed at least a dozen of them today, but they're hard to find since they're on the underside of the leaves. They're voracious eaters and grow quickly. They also turn green as they grow larger making them even harder to spot on the leaves.

Monday, April 26, 2010

First Hop Cones

We have had beautiful weather in Houston over the past few weeks, weather that the hop plants obviously love. They have both experienced incredible growth rates and the Cascasde developed hop cones over the weekend! I didn't get first hop cones until we were into June last year. The cones (in the photo to the left) are on the middle of the main bine which is already over 15 feet long. More side shoots are starting to develop over the length of the bine as well as on a couple of the other ones.

The photo to the right was taken from top of the pot looking up the pole of the trellis. From underneath, you can really see how the bines have wrapped around the twine and each other as they've grown.

I've done a lot of reading about growing hops and frequently browse a couple of online hop growing forums. Some of the posts I've read suggest that all growth up to now should be cut down to the ground to make the plant start over again. The reasoning behind this seems to be that hops that develop early in the season will have a "grassy" flavour to them, possibly caused by the heat. Making the plants start over will ensure the hops develop later in the season. However, that seems to be more of an opinion with was just as many that disagreed with it. So, since this is only my second year growing them and I only have two plants, I'm going to just let them grow and harvest the cones as they become available. Eventually, I'd like to have few more hop plants and then I can actually experiment with them and get a better idea of what works and what doesn't for growing hops down here in Texas.

I've continued to monitor the wetness of the soil and adjusted the watering schedule accordingly. I like the soil to get fairly dry between waterings, but not enough to make the plant wilt. I also fertilized both plants with some liquid Miracle Grow fertilizer.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Huge Leaves

Some of the leaves on the Nugget are getting huge. Here's some that are as big as my hand. I guess they're basically like solar panels for the plant, soaking up energy from the sun. Hopefully big leaves aren't actually a bad thing and causing the plant to use too much of its energy supporting them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Good Growth Rate Continues

Thinned out some of the new growth around the base of the plant and removed a few new bines. I probably still have too many bines per plant, but both are continuing to do very well and look healthy and bushy. A bine from the Cascade (right) is now almost at the third bend in the twine. Even though the twine is on an upward angle, some of the bines still try to just grow straight up and I often have to spend a few minutes a day wrapping the new growth around the twine.

The temperatures have been in the high 70's during the day with plenty of sunshine which the plants obviously like. They're currently getting watered every second day to allow the soil to dry out which will get adjusted as the daytime temperatures increase.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cleaned Up and Thinned Out

It really was a tangled mess in there, particularly the Cascade. The tips of the bines are also delicate and very easy to break and once that happens, that bine won't grow longer. That actually helped with the thinning process as I just completely removed the bine if I accidentally broke the tip trying to untangle it or wind it around the twine. I ended up training more then just two or three bines per twine though, as there were so many healthy and strong ones and I just couldn't bring myself to cut them back. One of the Cascade bines is already rounding the second bend in the twine which is making me think that its going to reach the total length of 14 feet pretty quickly.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There

When we left on vacation last Thursday, a couple of bines of the Cascade were just starting to climb the twine and the Nugget was just getting going out of the ground (see photo in previous post). Well, the past five days were apparently fantastic growing weather. I checked the hops plants this morning when I left for work and this is what I found:

Quite the tangled mess. I had a feeling that's what it would look like when I got back with no one around to train the bines onto the twine. One of the bines from the Cascade plant had crossed over and started growing up the twine on the Nugget pot. Bines are braided together as they climbed each other and others are wrapped around the support pole. Quite a lot of growth for only five days. I'll have a bit of work to do this afternoon to untangle the mess and figure out which bines to keep and get them wrapped around the twine. The rest of the bines will be cut off so the plant can concentrate on growing the main bines. I'll probably keep four to six bines per plant (two to three per twine) and cut back the rest.