Friday, September 3, 2010

There be hops here

I guess three's the charm.

Planted hops at the old place. Not enough sun, no hops. Planted them here, last year. No hops - the first year is all root growth. This year: hops! Yay!

Growing them organically can be a challenge, though. We had an active Japanese beetle year. I kept them at bay with garlic juice and fels-naptha soap solution. But something kept eating the hops even after the beetles split (they only last a few weeks in mid summer).

Closer examination revealed a small, fuzzy caterpillar. The aptly named Hop Merchant, also known as the Eastern Comma. Nice butterflies, but not welcome on my hop vines. So I switched the protocol to BT, the biological caterpillar killer. That did the trick, though it was late in the season when I realized my problem was bigger than garlic and soap.

Next year I'll be ready. That's what I am figuring out with this whole organic experiment. You read, you do homework and then you put your knowledge into practice. As in the rest of life on Earth, experience is the best teacher.

Why grow hops you might ask. I like 'em. They are really beautiful although not the most colorful of flowers. I brew my own beer but I won't have enough this year to actually use them in a batch. Next year, maybe. I think these are Cascades - but that's a guess. They seem to be the hardiest of the bunch. Planted three or four varieties - these survived the blizzards.

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