ORGANIC HOPS: SOME QUICK TIPS TO A SUCCESSFUL CROP
Quick Primer.. Know Your Hop Plants
Hops are a perennial plant, meaning with proper care one plant will produce
for many years. Hops like fertile soil, plenty of sun and water, and
something to climb on. The part of the plant used in brewing are the
flower cones of the female plant. When growing your own hops, it is best
to start with rhizomes (roots) from the female plant only, as these will
produce large healthy cones without any seed.
Varieties Will Grow Best in Your Back Yard?
There are many varieties of hops, and if you are growing hops for the
first time, it is a good idea to start with several varieties to find
out which will do the best in your own back yard. For areas with a short
growing season, choose hops that can be harvested early:
Hallertaur, Perle, Saaz, Spalt, & Tettnanger
areas with a longer growing season, Cascade and
Kent Goldings are good choices, but the other varieties
can be grown successfully also, as long as the
plants are mulched well and they get plenty of
water. Here in California, all of the varieties
we sell can be grown successfully.
Rhizomes For Sale
hop rhizomes we have for sale come from farms in
the United States that currently grow certified
organic hops or are small scale farms that use
organic methods. Starting in 2011, all of the hop
rhizomes we sell are USDA Certified organic.
year fresh hop rhizomes are available from early
March to early May. We
offer them for sale as early as the first week
of February. As soon as they are available each
year we post them for sale on this page: http://www.breworganic.com/hoprhizomes.aspx
we cannot cover every detail about growing hops here on
this page, the following information should help you to
get started on the right foot. Also, there are some really
good information resources on the subject in print:
Homebrewer's Garden, By Joe Fisher & Dennis
Hops, by David R. Beach ($12.90)
are good websites to visit for more information:
Brew Your Own Magazine:
10 Tips for Growing Your Own Hops
Ales offers a Small Scale & Organic Hops Production
manual, which can be ordered here.
have hops analyzed in a lab for alpha and beta acid content:
in a laboratory may not be cost effective as it can cost
between $24 and $50 per sample not including the shipping
costs. This should not stop you from brewing with your
homegrown hops however! It is a good rule of thumb to use
the middle average AA value for the hop variety you have.
If you do not like overly bitter beer, use less rather
than more, taste a sample of the wort as it nears the end
of boil, and keep good notes if you plan to brew with the
same hops again. If youing your freshly harvested home
grown hops for aroma or flavor, the amount of bitterness
extracted in the shorter boil time is negligable, so using
the amount called for in your recipe is a good procedure.
of a rhizome
Your Hops In the Right Place:
A good site for your hop plants is key to a healthy crop. The following
criteria is the most important:
-Good sun.. a minimum of 6 to 8 hours per day of full sunlight.
-Good air circulation..this will help to prevent diseases and will help
keep pests to a minimum. If your area is really windy, a windbreak should
-Good drainage.. hops like a lot of moisture, but ground that stays too
saturated after a heavy rain will promote the growth of mold and other
-Plenty of vertical space.. hop vines can grow up to 30 feet in length.
You will need to construct a trellis, or use an existing structure that
the hops can grow on.
Get your hops off to a good start by adding lots of compost or well rotted
manure to the soil before planting. Hops grow best in soil with a Ph of 6 to
7.5, and need plenty of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium,
iron, zinc, and boron. A good organic fertilizer or compost will provide most
of these nutrients. For more details about soil amendments and fertilizers,
we recommend The Homebrewer's Garden, or another good gardening guide. Plant
the hop rhizomes 6" deep and 1 1/2 to 3 feet apart, in raised beds if
possible. The soil should be worked at least 2' deep. Cover the planted hops
with a thick layer of mulch to prevent the soil from drying out and to keep
weeds and pests to a minimum.
Before the hops grow more than a few inches, construct a hop trellis. There
are many designs for the hop trellis, some of which can be found on the web
page links, above, or in the recommended books, above. A good trellis is sturdy
so it can hold up the weight of the hops plus withstand a strong wind, and
gives the entire leafy part of the hop plant good sun exposure.