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Hops

Calling all aspiring home-brewers! Homegrown Hops are an essential ingredient in the best home brews. While you can order dried Hops from beer-making suppliers, fresh Hops from your own garden are infinitely better, and so much fun to grow. They're ornamental, too! The lush perennial vines grow up to 30' tall, so advance planning is essential. The traditional method of trellising is to run one strong wire between tall posts, and then wires from the horizontal wire down to the ground, but tall, sturdy wires anchored against a house or barn work, too, and are a bit easier to install. Hops prefer full sun and moist, fertile, well-drained soil. After all danger of frost has passed, plant the rhizomes 4" deep (and at least 3' apart) on their sides at the base of the wires and water well. After the vines (called bines) emerge, train the best two to three stems clockwise around the wire and prune off the rest. Before long the bines will begin to twine on their own. By late summer, the Hop cones will begin to ripen and will need to be harvested regularly. After harvest, place the cones in a warm, dry, dark place to dry completely. Then store dried cones in airtight bags in the freezer. The bines will die back in winter. Prune them to the ground and fresh bines will emerge from the roots in spring.

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