Ramble On

Monday, May 9, 2016

Spring Planting 2016 @hawksbillhops

Here's a section of the new Fuggles half row.
We had our spring planting event at the hop yard on the last Saturday in April.  It had been a wet, rainy week, but the weather broke just in time for planting.

Unlike last year, when we were just starting up the farm and had to plant all 700 rhizomes, this year we had planned to do some fill-ins.  We added a row of 60 Chinook, so that we have three now - about about 180 plants.

Also, because they were slow starters last year, we had considered taking out the half row Centennials and putting in a row of Fuggles in their place.  The Centennials were up and at 'em this year, 27 plants, so we decided to plant the balance of that row with Fuggles, so now we have about 85 of those along with the Centennial.  There is a 12 foot space between the two varieties in that row so that we can ensure we don't mix them up during the season, when they can intertwine at the top cable across that distance, or during harvest.

One of the Goldings hills after weeding.

We also added some fills in our Cascade rows, patching about 25 empty spaces where plants didn't come up this spring.

The second major undertaking was to weed the Goldings.  These are an English variety that I'd really like to see have a go, but they seem ill-suited for the Virginia climate.  When I scouted the row - we had planted 50 of them last year, I only spotted 25 or so of them.

There are a couple of our volunteers who are especially dedicated to these plants - they planted the rhizomes last year and checked on their progress several times throughout the season - and they happily jumped right into the task of weeding them.  In the process, they found the rest of the Goldings - so we're up to 50.  Time will tell if they can make it with all the competition from Virginia weeds, and the challenges of Virginia daylight hours being shorter than their native England!

Once the field chores were done everyone took a break
under the pole barn.
All in all we had about 15 folks come out to help, and like last year they made pretty quick work out of planting the rhizomes and the weeding.  At the end, everyone spread out into the yard and freelanced on more weeding.  We pretty much cleaned up the Cascades, leaving the Chinooks and Columbuses for later this spring.

Of course we had Luray's famous donuts from the Fairview Grocery for refreshments.  We also had some homebrews to share - one made with hops from our yard, and two others that included hops that Kevin grew in Luray.

The help from the volunteers is so valuable and important to our little start-up hop yard.  This work will go a long way towards helping us get to a viable harvest this year - especially with the new rows and the Goldings!  I'm really looking forward to the growing season now!

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