Sunday, August 30, 2009
The 2009 Hops Harvest
Today, we harvested all of our homegrown hops.
We started our hops bines in 2007, with the purchase of 12 initial rhizomes from Freshops.com.   Georg built a 14 foot high, 36 foot long, single wire trellis with 12 full height biodegradable climbing ropes for each plant.   Following the clear instructions from Freshops, we planted one rhizome at the bottom of each climbing rope.   And then we waited.
By the end of the 2007 growing season, we had 3 foot to 6 foot tall bines, as expected.   The energy of the plants was being spent on developing a strong root system.   Spring 2008, after a cold winter, shoots soon appeared and the bines grew really well.   In September 2008, we harvested a few ounces of hop flowers and were very pleased with ourselves.   We used the hops to flavor one batch of homebrew.
But this year, we had our first true hops crop!   Nearly all the plants reached the top of the 14 foot ropes and started working their way down again.   The main bines were as thick as a finger.   And the flowers were bigger and in beautiful dense clusters.
Harvesting 14 foot tall bines, which by nature do a fabulous job of adhering to the ropes, is a challenge.   Ladders help.   And figuring out how to unwind the bines from the bottom helps, too.   It is the kind of work that requires a quiet patience.   Like most farm work.
After a few hours of work, and earning the multiple scratches from the rather itchy plants to prove it, we had gathered a whooping 10 full gallons of hop flowers!   They are now air drying and will soon be packed in the freezer for preservation until Kearsarge Meadows' BrewMeister, Georg, uses them to add wonderful hoppy flavor to his beer recipes.