Last year I planted three rhizomes in my landlord/surrogate godfather/friend (“C”)’s garden, had a good time of it, and ended up with a single ounce of dried Cascade hop cones to show for it at the end of the growing season1.
Fast forward from October 2009 to April 2010. Springtime in the Southern Appalachians. The days lengthen. The sun shines warmer. Tree frogs begin to peep. Green things begin to grow. One yearns to be outdoors for no other reason than to simply be outdoors, and feel more fully alive in so doing. I get a phone call from C: “these hops are growing like kudzu.”
None of his warnings prepared me for what I found once I got to the garden. Kudzu, indeed. Some of the runners, in the absence of anything else to wend their way along, had literally braided themselves with each other.
Fortunately, C had prepared the plot by erecting a new-and-improved trellis for our second-generation vine2. The task that remained for the two of us was to weave a web of twine along the trellis in a “W” formation to facilitate training the young vinelings to grow up the twine, and to separate out the strands of hop-vine runners and begin the process of winding each strand up a column of twine. Forty-five minutes later, we were finished — and still amazed at just how many vine runners there are, and how much they’ve grown in a mere two weeks. These suckers have TAKEN OFF.
This is exciting. I will always grow hops.
1 The endpoint destination of said ounce of hops will be revealed in a near-future posting. Note that they are being put to a noble cause.
2 Our first-generation trellis, for our first-generation vines, looked something akin to a peasant ladder-prop from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The new-and-improved trellis, whose design is inspired by the hop yards at Cisco Brewery, is downright professional-looking. Even I was impressed.