Sunday, March 27, 2016

Coming out of hibernation

Having been dormant since the autumn it's time to reawaken as the hops start to poke out of the ground again. Last year's harvest was a little disappointing compared to the year before. My current working theory is that the intervening winter was particularly harsh. This last winter didn't seem as bad although we did get some snow:

However, I took some precautions this time just to be on the safe side. This consisted mainly of raking leaves over the raised bed the hops are in to act as insulation and possibly keep some of the weeds down too:

Once all the snow had melted and the weather began to warm up I periodically checked under the leaves to see if there were any signs of life. About three weeks ago I found these Columbus shoots:

Time for this year's addition of compost, a lot of which consists of spent grain from brewing for the past year (I love the whole circle of life thing):

The Columbus very quickly found a way through the compost and is looking promising for another year of strong growth:

The Cascade has also made an appearance:

I don't have any expectations about seeing the Willamette this year. It seems that it has been very effectively pushed out of the raised bed by the Columbus and Cascade. The invasive nature of hops has given me the idea to use them for a bio-remediation experiment this year. The bottom of our garden has been overrun by wisteria and ivy from our neighbours' yards for years. We've done our best to pull it up but also being invasive, it just keeps coming back. Now that my hops have been in the ground for a couple of years they should be sturdy enough for me to take a some rhizome and plant it at the bottom of the garden in an attempt to out compete the invaders. A two inch section from the Columbus was transplanted with some of the compost. A couple of weeks later and they've made an appearance:

With any luck they will spread and prevent other things from taking up that space and I might even end up with more hops. Win-win in my book. I'll be keeping an eye on them but won't be cultivating them in the same way I do with those in the raised bed. I really do want them to run wild.