Each year since I have started growing hops (this is my third year), I have tried to document the first signs of life in the spring, the clipping back of bines to allow a few strong ones to carry forward, the harvest(s), and what I do with the hops in my home brewing. I am trying to break my consistent streak of never delivering on the promise. This marks my first attempt at a trail for my home grown 2012 hops.
The weather around Chicagoland has been ridiculously warm this winter into early spring. This has caused the growing patterns to be four or more weeks ahead of normal in this region this time of the year. The two hop plants in my yard are no exception. Both (Centennial and Mt. Hood) are having great beginnings.
Centennial is a third year plant and has at least 15 bines fingering up through the ground. Some are over a foot long already. Mt. Hood, a second year plant, has shot up a touch slower, having a half dozen bines creeping up from the depths. The longest is in the eight inch range.
Based on the current growth and steady diet of nice weather, I don’t see any reason why there won’t be two harvests this season. A freezing evening, that can still come, could wreak havoc on a ton of plants around here let alone my hop plants.
I am trying to add one more hop bine to the mix. Fuggle or Chinook are my picks. Chuck has both, I am just waiting on him digging around in his yard to get my frag (a term from my salt water days). I would like Fuggle as that is my go to hop for many recipes but Chuck has had some issues growing. Chinook on the other hand is a great grower but I don’t use it nearly as much. I am sure I can find more uses if it is hanging in the yard.
I will try to document the process more closely this year, especially my bine selection process and the eventual harvest. If you have any questions or comments, fire them my way. Enjoy!
Useless Fact: Lobsters do feel pain when boiled alive. By soaking them in salt water before cooking, however, you can anesthetize them.