The tally I had to beat for the hops I’ve been growing this year was just 1.5 flowers, which was last year’s record. They say the first-year volumes can be small, and that subsequent years are almost always better. The key word here is “almost”, but it’s not always the case.

Hops are fairly simple plants to understand and require very little maintenance. You just need to give them something to climb in a place that gets several hours of sunlight a day. And for hops to flower, their leaves need to grow large to absorb as much sunlight as possible. They climb vertically for four or five metres before they spread out horizontally to flower.

Last year, I didn’t think they were getting enough sunlight. So I moved them at the start of the year to the border at the front of the house, where they’d get much more exposure to the sun and I wouldn’t have to rig up a complex frame made from bamboo canes and an obelisk, as I’d just use garden twine attached to nails in the wall.

When Plot 1 started growing rapidly in March, I got cocky and honestly thought that the hops would be taking over the house at this point.

And here comes the “but”. But it didn’t work out quite like that. Growth stunted in May for about a month until I invested in some Miracle Grow. That got things moving again across the three plots. However, the leaves could not grow large as they were ravaged by caterpillars, snails, and aphids. Then the vine in Plot 2 with the biggest leaves of all ended up frying on the brickwork in the heatwave in July. But ultimately, the soil quality of the border at the front of the house was far inferior to their previous location of the veg patch.

In another entry on here, I compared the hops to my comedy career. And while growth may have stunted on one of the three plots, there were other areas of growth.

Growth hasn’t stopped in all areas. And the fact that they won’t flower this year is pretty on the nose. Still, there is always next year. And with another relocation, things should be much better. At the very least, I cannot have a hop tally in the negative figures.

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