Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Heads will roll

Due to some spectacular gardening incompetence on my part I have managed to decapitate the Northern Brewer. The more observant will have noticed soaker hoses amongst the raised beds I'm using. Unfortunately they are just for show at the moment as they are all tangled around the garden and to be honest I don't know which goes where. The other day while trying to untangle things I pulled on the wrong one which pulled one across the cage of the Northern Brewer and very efficiently separated the stem in the ground from the part that had begun winding its way up. Like this:

As you may be able to see there is a soaker hose to the right of the main stem which was previously to the left. I've unwound what was left and stuck it in the ground in a vain attempt to get it to root. I hasn't shrivelled up completely yet but I'm not going to be holding my breath. I think I'm also going to stick to watering using the hose.

I guess, whether I wanted to or not, I will find out about relative timings for hop growth and harvest. Many sources I have read suggest cutting growth back at a certain date so that cones will appear later in the year  (and presumably at the same time) which may be better for harvesting in large operations. This is not a large operation. I have also been thinking that sooner rather than later would be better here given how nasty the summer is here in Houston.

You can also see in this pic the next escalation of my war against the snails. I have placed a broken egg shell around each plant. This is the next suggestion after beer traps. Those snails had better hope I don't have to resort to copper rings. This is what the Goldings look like now with their egg shell:

Despite having been folded over the leaves above the break have not completely died yet so there may still be intact xylem and phloem connections. Just to be extra gentle I have taken to watering them with the mist setting on the hose rather than shower:

Even the dog doesn't get this kind of pampering, but then there isn't even the remotest possibility of him helping me make beer.

The Willamette also got eggshell, lets hope it works better than the beer trap (waste of perfectly good beer anyway):

While it is still managing to grow upwards another pest seems to have taken up residence:

Not entirely sure what this is. I saw some very small black bugs but also saw a ladybird at the same time so it's possible they have already been taken care of (they are pretty voracious). There isn't any evidence that they have spread to any other leaves so I have my fingers crossed. Why does so much of this seem to involve hoping for the best?


  1. Just stumbled across your blog from the GrowHops list. I am in Lake Charles LA and have been growing hops for my own homebrewing for about 4 years.

    I do not think the decapitation will be a big deal. In my experience, the shoot will continue to grow or shift momentum to another leaf.

    I have had the best luck with Cascade so far.

    It's amusing to see how cautious you are being with the hops. I remember doing the same when I first started. Now they grow amazingly well without very much effort on my part. In this climate I've found some varieties will grow like weeds while others will not do very well no matter what you try.

    Good luck!

  2. Welcome and thanks for the advice. I reckon once I've got a better idea of what they can handle I won't be so worried about them. It also won't be such a bad idea in the first year while their root systems are establishing themselves either.

    The Northern Brewer that was decapitated is certainly putting effort into growing secondary shoots off the same stem. Haven't seen any other primary shoots though.

    At least the Willamette is doing pretty well. Having said that, I think in future I would definitely get some Cascades in.