Hop to it

A few months ago, I moved my hops from the unexpectedly shady veg patch to the border at the front of the house.

They say that the first year for hops is normally pretty quiet, with better results in the subsequent years. And it’s looking like they might well be right, whoever ‘they’ are. They’re – as in the hops – already showing impressive signs of growth. In fact, they seem to have grown each time I check on them.

When I replanted them, I wasn’t sure if it would work. And when something started sprouting this past week, I thought it may be a stray sycamore sapling. It turns out that it was a hop.

I’ve been checking the dates. Last year, I only planted the hops on 12 March and nothing really happened for quite a few weeks. So, the hops are already doing much better.

Last year, it became a bit disheartening to see a neighbour’s flourishing hops spilling out over the top of his custom-built, three-metre-high wooden climbing frame. I’d ordered a two metre-tall metal obelisk that I had to assemble, then extended the height using bamboo canes, with garden twine deployed at various points.

Hops like to climb vertically immediately, whereas I spent a large amount of time and effort trying to encourage them to climb horizontally to get onto the make-shift climbing frame I’d assembled. Last year, the highest vine did reach almost three in the end, but it took a long time.

This year, things are much simpler and I’m using garden twine with then nails that are conveniently already in the wall. I can add more nails and twine as the growth progresses.

I am quietly confident that this year’s harvest will be better than last. I mean, I only had one and a half hops last year, so I should certainly hope so.

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