Thursday, June 19, 2008

oaktown hip hops

Yo!
You heard the 411 on the hop crisis?
Well, whether you have or not, for us malt liquor lovers, it's like, damn! Fo' shoe-a.
Luckily, my abode here in Oaktown be in a middle latitude on dis' orb and gots a hella mild climate. Means you can grow'em yo'self my peeps.

So somehow seeing into the future and anticipating the shortage of some hops for craft brewers, about this time last year, I bought a few hop rhizomes and planted them out front. Really, I bought them down at the Oak Barrel because they had some, I love growing things, and a town named Hopland is under two hours away so I figured they'd do at least alright. Anyway, they were planted in half barrels containing crappy soil that needed much amending and aerating. No worries. I read they don't do much their first year. Sure nuff, they went up about four feet reeeel slowly and then all the greenery died about November during our first almost frost.

This year, I looked at our garden space more closely and hatched a plan for hop production. I transplanted them into a patch that I used an acidic conditioner on (sulfur bits). Apparently, the new environs and second year of growth have coincided nicely, for we now have a few plants climbing. Getting them to grow is one challenge. Directing their growth is another. So, to push the learning even further, I put strings I tied to tomato cages at ground level and to a few rusty screws near our roofline (placed so fortuitously by a former tenant) for the Northern Brewer to climb, while the Cascade are being directed to go out horizontal above the cold frame and toward the street.

Looking out the bathroom window now involves a leafy view, particularly downward. The bines grow clockwise around the strings and haul themselves up rather nicely. And if you like watching things grow, these are fun. On that hottest day a few weeks back here in the bay area, one of them seemed to grow about eight inches. I couldn't believe my eyes, but it corresponded with it coming up over the gutter and finally onto the roof so it was easy to see its progress over the course of the day. It was amazing.
I love plants.

On closer inspection a few days later, I noticed that what I thought might be the developing cones, must indeed be. From a distance, it looked like the plants had blurry spots on them. I hauled myself up for a closer look and there they were in open flowering mode, fuzzy and hoppy. I went back inside and did a little happy dance feeling totally stoked at the prospect of a future hop harvest. I thought to myself sheee-iiiit damn! DIY rules! (followed by whispering to myself) Just don't fuck it up now.........

The little ladies in the neighborhood have been diggin' on the hops too. I guess it it still technically spring for a few more days and they might as well make the best of it. I welcome any thing that pleases them for there have been no pests of any kind so far. By the looks of these critters, I can probably count on aphids at least being out of the picture. Or can I? A horrid thought crossed my mind: we had some enormous garden pests last year, chiefly in the form of the North American bastard corn swiper. They better not return and like hops too!

Well, I'm off to go make a few bamboo stake booby traps and maybe a slingshot or two. So, remember, whatever you may consider doing in my yard, make sure you have explicit permission!

5 comments:

K & S said...

wow, impressive! hope that corn swiper has learned his/her lesson and won't mess with your garden!!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Thanks, but really its the hops that are doing all the hardest work. However, I will protect and nurture them 100% just like Momma said. Wait, she also said "don't aim to kill, aim to maim" (or something like that). Yes, I'll be doing it all..........

K & S said...

if you need help maiming, let me know, I'll be on the first plane :)

Chilebrown said...

Hop Plants are way Kool. When the flowers are mature they give off the best smell. Becareful,because Hop Plants can be very invasive. In several years your house will be covered with Hops.Good Luck!

Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Are you one of those Maiming Madames disguised as a blogger? I'd never have guessed.......

Chile: Funny you should cite the invasiveness of the hops. I gave a plant to a German friend and he told his father back home about planting next to the house. His father warned him that it would start pulling apart the house in no time. I've yet to see any destructiveness, however now I'll keep both eyes on the lookout!