Saturday, January 31, 2015

New Project - Building a Hop Yard for 2015

Hi

The experiment with 2 "Nugget" hop plants went well and I have ordered 4 more plants of a 2 different kinds. I ordered 3 of Centennial and 1 of Liberty. But these plants as you know take up a lot of space! Last year the 2 that I grew in a container, grew over 20 feet long up to my 2nd story deck. Here is a picture of them hitting the roof of my patio over my deck, which is elevated to my 2nd story..
They kept climbing after that even!
So I am taking the back hill area right by the house and making it into hop yard. But of course, I don't have the time or money to make it like a commercial one so I have to do a bit of "reuse" and "re-purpose" to help me out. Here is the hill now..
Steep!
You can see how steep it is, so that is a problem for walking on it. But it makes it pretty good for planting hops because you train the vines so that it works with the slope, and you can get to the hops easier. They don't have to grow straight up so if I train them to go up and the take a 90 degree angle into the slope of the hill, they will be much easier to get to for picking.
Challenges? Lots..
1- To be able to plant them I need to build some kind of terraces and I don't have the money to go out and have a landscaper do it. So I am going to use some of the material around the property, mainly fallen trees... 
2- Soil is horrible so I will need to amend that.. got some straw bales rotting already to help with that task. I will have to buy some dirt I am sure.. but that usually isn't too much
3- Support for the plants needs to be tall and strong. Poles that are used commercially are 4 inch rounds that are pretty hefty and pricey. I am going to use tree supports and eye hooks with braided wire between them. Then just twine going to the ground train the plants up. That way when the season is over, I can take it all down and clear the area so that no one trips.

To build the terraces, I decided to use something I have a lot of, fallen trees. First they were cut and then I had to bring them up to the house..
My ATV does this well..
I still need more of them but started on it anyway to get an idea of what I would need to do. As with all projects that involve the garden, the first step is to dig... 
Started digging a shallow trench to hold the branches

The purpose of the trench is to give you a stable place to start building the wall
This will then be just like a Jenga puzzle... trying to fit the pieces together so that they hold without much in the way of stabilization. I do have some rebar and other things that I can use to help with this and since the dirt will be heavy I am going to have to use something.
Start laying the largest pieces in the trench. 
 Then it becomes a trial and error thing, what works on top of this log or that log.. etc
2 levels up.. I may need to go up more.
So this is how it is starting.. as usual seems simple enough but the devil is in the details. I do know that the more people I tell about growing hops the more people are getting excited. The craft brewing phenomenon is growing and people really are chasing high-quality, locally grown hops. This actually good be the item that I can use to move up here permanently.. 

Julie