Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Little Hop of Horror..
It starts out tiny, unassuming even cute. Audrey started out exactly like this. Just a few inches tall, my husband snuck her into the flat of plants at the nursery a few years ago. The aspen along the fence had died and knowing this was a climbing plant, he thought it could grow up the aspen until he was ready to take it down. No doubt in his mind he just envisioned two cute leafy canes growing up the aspen, maybe filling out a little as it went. All adorable and controlled, like in the pictures of hops farms.
She got huge... epic proportions huge. See the reddish pot at the bottom? I put it in that pot temporarily while he waited to get his shovel back from a neighbor. The neighbor had the shovel a very long time, and in the meantime... Audrey thrived. That picture is Audrey in June. She hadn't even finished growing or set flowers yet. Several major hailstorms nipped at her breaking a few bines, encouraging her to expand. Expand she did..7 feet either side of the fence as she stretched out, and nearly swallowing up the neighbor's hydrangea.
When Audrey did flower and set her hops, the weight caused the aspen to come crashing down. It made for an easy harvest. My husband's beer brewing fiends happily rushed off with the harvest just moments after they were picked.
Audrey multiplied, and by a lot. The whole 15 gallon pot is all rhizomes, and Audrey blew out the bottom of the pot sending roots far below. We divided Audrey up a few days ago. Split the pot contents in half and relocated. 5 little sections fell off and I planted those in 3 inch pots to share with the beer fiends.
Now I refer to my hops as female... that is because it is. Hop plants are either male or female. It takes about 1 male to fertilize 5 females. They also spread by way of rhizomes. So if you are hoping to get hops to make beer, you want the females only. Most of the cultivars are from rhizome clones (almost like propagating potatoes). Seeds are also sold, but rhizomes from a good dependable source can save you a lot of space as well as trouble. Seeds can be a gamble.
As for now.. my husband relocated the hops to the playground set he built our daughter. The playground set he keeps meaning to take down, but never has the time to do so. I think he is waiting for Audrey to work her hefty magic once again.