It’s long overdue but finally we’ve got round to growing our own hops. After planting them earlier this year we’re now excitedly witnessing the emergence of the first shoots. We’ve gone for two varieties – classic British hop ‘target’ and it’s 1970s cousin ‘Wye challenger’. They seem pretty easy to grow, so let us present you with this guide on what we’ve learnt so far…
How to grow hops in your garden
There are three main ways to get hops growing in your garden, as follows:
1. Sowing seeds
This is the trickiest method. They’re notoriously reluctant to germinate. We’ve tried, and failed, with a wild hop variety. (We’ll try again)
2. Taking cuttings
Despite this being a more reliable method than sowing seeds we also failed in our attempt to cultivate any growth from locally foraged hedgerow hops. (We’ll try again)*
3. Plant a bare root plant
This is the failsafe option. You simply buy a hop rootstock – called a rhizome – and stick it in the ground during their dormant winter period.
Come spring the hops burst into life and start to head skywards at a rapid rate. All they really need is something to climb over. We’ve planted ours either side of a shed and will encourage them to climb over it by plotting their route with string nailed to the shed panels. Hopefully they’ll meet in the middle of the roof – although it seems they hops won’t reach their full height in the first few years. If you’ve not got much room (or have a smaller shed) then dwarf varieties are available.
The hops will be harvested in Autumn and cut back to the ground, ready to hop back into action the following year.
We bought our hops from Alpus Hops
*Since writing this post we have mastered the practice of taking hop cuttings. It’s easy when you know how. And here’s how…