Ramble On

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hops Trellis Update

Setting a trellis pole.
Yesterday I wrote a short post about a hop yard in New Jersey after being alerted to it from one of my Google+ friends.  There they are using a central pole technique to grow about 90 plants that will serve local brewers who are part of their club - it is a great example of community supported agriculture, and I was glad to learn about it.

Of course, I set out on my own journey this year to grow hops commercially.  I have a great partner on the farm (Public House Produce - click on the link for more details about David and his efforts) - which we're calling Hawksbill Hop Yards.  And it's not ironic at all that on the same day I wrote that other post I would get news from my own team that they set poles for our new trellising last night!
Arrival of the poles in the field.

They were working near dusk so I've applied Instagram filters to these to bring out the action.  We are using a matrix system for the trellis, which consists of poles with cable stretched between them crosswise and lengthwise in the field.  We'll have 12 rows of 60-70 plants in a field that is just about one square acre in area - and we have plans to duplicate that field for next year.

This caught me by surprise, because David said they'd planned to spend the day putting in broccoli and onions yesterday.  He told me that they set 5,000 onions yesterday, and 1,200 broccoli plants - all that before they went to work on the trellis!

Moving into position - don't try this at home!
Meanwhile there is other progress to report.  I'm getting emails from both of my commercial suppliers that our initial rhizome orders are in - since we pulled the trigger on building a full acre trellis, I need to add some - so we should see the rhizomes begin to arrive at the farm soon, in time for our 5/2/2015 planting event.

I think I have this right - the final schedule of our rhizomes by variety:

  • 300 Cascade
  • 180 Chinook
  • 120 Columbus
  • 50 Fuggles
  • 120 Goldings

Parting shot, with the poles in position.

I have 30 extra Columbus, and Neighbor Dan has offered me up to 30 Centennial, depending on if they fit into the rows I may add them.  If not, we may just find some open ground and plant them for a year, then move them into the new ground next year.

Next step for the crew on the farm will be to begin stringing cable.  Rain has come in, so this work may wait a few days - and there is always something else to do now that planting season is here!

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