Harvesting My Hops

Dateline 19 August 2016 AD


I bought a single hops plant from Territorial Seed Company back in 2009. I planted it at the base of a simple-to-make, 12-foot-tall T-post hops pole (instructions for making the pole are in My Garden Idea Book) in one corner of my garden. It is an amazing plant.

The first few years I got lots of big cones. Then the cones got smaller. Last year they were pretty scarce. I mentioned this to a guy who works at the local lumberyard, and who is an avid hops grower (and beer maker). He told me that if I want big cones I need to prune the bines so only three or four were allowed to grow up the pole. Duh. I should have known.

So this spring I made sure to cut away all but four of the bines that wanted to grow up the pole. And that made all the difference. The other thing I did that I think really helped was I mulched around the pole with some old hay. It was a very dry summer here, but the hops put out an incredible amount of cones. Some are pretty big, as you can see in the above picture.

Today I was at the lumberyard and my hops-growing friend said he was picking and drying some of his hops cones. He told me that they need to be picked when they are green. I didn't know that. So I came right home and started harvesting some of my crop. 


Those cones are less than a quarter of what is on the pole. I will pick more tomorrow. Here's a picture of a cone broken so you can see the bright yellow lupulin powder that is inside (click the picture for a larger view)...


I planted the hops in my garden as a novelty. But I have since discovered that hops is a powerful deep-sleep inducer. Put some of the cones in your pillow and you'll sleep like you never slept before. That has been my experience. Amazing.

But, of course, hops is primarily used for making beer. That's something I haven't done, primarily because I'm not a beer drinker. However, my ol' high school friend, David Ennulat, brought some of his award-winning oatmeal stout to our 40th high-school class reunion picnic last month, and it was something pretty special. So I'm thinking about making my own beer. Just a little. I'm thinking of it as a medicinal drink.

I'm wondering if anyone reading this has grown hops and made your own beer? Or have you tried using hops as a sleep inducer?


My Hops pole in August, 2016





9 comments:

  1. Your hop plant looks amazing! I bought a hop plant earlier in the year and there are several hops growing. I would like to try making beer, but I'm not sure if that will be this year or the next. I sort of knew about the medicinal use of hops, but thanks for the reminder. :) I'm enjoying your new blog very much, thank you for sharing.
    Best wishes from across the ocean.
    Ellen in the Netherlands

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    1. Hi Ellen in the Netherlands,

      Thanks for the comment! I wish you all the best with your hops plant.

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  2. Glad you got a great crop! I combine hops with some other relaxing herbs to induce sleep. It works very well. I haven't tried it in the pillowcase but am glad to know about it. I've used lavender that way for relaxing sleep and one time put mugwort in there and dreamt all night!

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    1. I understand mugwort "activates dreams." I have felt like the hops alone does that. I'll look into mugwort. I've heard of it but not grown it. Lavender I have grown. I love lavender! Thanks, Nancy.

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  3. I hope you'll show us how you dry them.

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    1. Hi Smitty,

      I layered the cones onto the trays of my Excalibur dehydrator, set it on low, and they dried overnight. Kept their beautiful green color. My friend puts his hops in trays in the upstairs of his barn (it's warmer upstairs) and has a fan blowing air across the trays.

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  4. I have grown hops, used them to make hop pillows, as well as used it for brewing beer. I dried mine in our small dehydrator, but an Excalibur would do a fine job and handle more hops! We sleep so well while the hops are drying in the house and on the evenings after I have brewed!

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  5. I have approximately 150 lineal feet of hops that have been growing unattended on my property for over 20 years, they grow wild as a vine against the sheep fence. After research, I suspect they are a Cascade variety and used in many beers. I have not yet gotten to the project of my brew stand, but if I do....I have plenty of hops for myself, and probably a dozen other brewers.

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  6. Did you know that hops were used in the early 1800's to make yeast cakes, to make bread, before it was available in stores. It was actually the pollen that was in the hops that was used to make bread rise. It was boiled and the water was used to make the cakes. Although I like the sour dough starter, I prefer yeast, and if that is not available in the future, I wanted to know how to get yeast other than using fruits and other ways to make my own. It does take practice to learn how to use it, but then you have something that you can grow, and use for bread making when you need it. There is also a Youtube video of one of my friends that tried it and it did work out after a few batches were made. Now I have got to get a hops plant and get it going so that I can not only make my own yeast cakes, but grow the hops for them too. Thank you for this reminder. Bless, Sheila

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