Growing Hops in our Garden
Stefan, our youngest son, has many great hobbies, traveling, photography, active hockey, playing board games, cooking and baking, designing websites, maintaining his own blog ‘This Timeless Moment’ at kloppmagic.ca, hanging out with friends, just to name a few. Three years ago he started making his own craft beer at his little home in Vancouver.
When I heard about it for the first time, I had no idea that I would have any involvement in his latest passion. One day over the phone he announced that I would soon receive a parcel from a hops nursery in BC. It would contain hops rhizomes for me to plant in our garden. My attitude has always been this. When accepting a new task, do it right or don’t do it all. The idea of Stefan brewing beer with the hops I would be growing appealed to me, especially since I am a fan of good beer. In my mind I was already sampling his tasty, refreshing brew. So I accepted the challenge of growing a new plant in our garden. I won’t go into the details, as one can easily read up on the topic on-line.
To find out which variety of hops plants would do best in our climate and soil, Stefan had ordered eight different kinds: Mt. Hood, Willamet, Fuggle, Chinook, Golding, Centennial, Cascades, and Sterling. The reader, who has knowledge of the Pacific Northwest, may recognize some of the names as bearing resemblance to geographical places in Oregon. That is no coincidence, as Oregon State boasts of having the most and best breweries in the States.
The hops plant is quite modest in terms of maintenance and care. Also it grows in most types of soil, but needs a trellis system of poles and strings allowing it to grow 6 to 7 m high. It grows at an incredible speed. You can literally watch it grow some 30 cm in a single day. Later in the fall, you can marvel at the dense green canopy overhead with thousands of cones hanging from the side shoots of the hops plants.
Picking and plucking off the cones is time-consuming and quite tedious. They also need to be dried and then put in plastic bags, where they will stay fresh in the freezer. But the pleasure of drinking the finest beer that Stefan brews is well worth the effort.