Friday, June 9, 2017

Hops in Southeast Louisiana

We have a friend over in England who brews the most excellent beers...... He's been doing it for over 20 years so he's got it down pat. 

We had the pleasure of hanging out with him and his lovely wife in May and although we didn't get to see him brew up a new batch, I helped him polish of any number of existing barrels! And saw a little of his 'operation'. Which brought us to the subject of ingredients, namely hops.

These are the grains added to bitter the flavor, if that's the word I should use. I've been curious about them because they are stunning to look at as the climb a line 10' in the air! They look a bit like the kudzu devouring Georgia.

Who wouldn't want to try to grow these in the garden!? But will they thrive in our humidity? Our relentless late-summer heat? Our bugs? And if they do, if they will produce, what then will I ever do with the tiny cones?

Well, I 'll worry about that bridge when I get there. But in the meantime, Let me show you what I have been up to since our return from Portsmouth, England.

I found a website, Thyme Garden, that was selling off the remainder of this year's rhizomes...... and with the vast selection they offer, they were down to a precious few and only one day left to order. (In fact, I may be a little late altogether in this project for much this year, but what the heck. The roots will have a full year to grow and spread.) So, I chose 4 varieties, Nugget, Brewer's Gold, Kent Golding and Sterling and bought 2 roots of each. I'm big on hedging my bets.

It is entirely possible none of them will take, or only one of each or both and all! You just never know...... but I like a good challenge!

So, While I waited for them to arrive, I ordered 4 obelisks and scoped out a place in the Back Two that might give them the best chance at survival here in Louisiana. 

These are 8' obelisks from Gardman USA and they come 2 to a pack from Amazon. Putting them together was not easy but I did it alone.

It makes for thirsty work! Good thing I have beer...

And here they all, 4 soldiers ready to be planted.

This is the spot in the back where we have selected to be the optimal planting location. This is facing dead East so they will received full-blast morning sunlight. Here, John has prepped the ground with holes filled with Black Cow and our compost, making hills for drainage and is planting the 4 obelisks. We did NOT change the composition of the underlying soils which is primarily clay with a high acidity. Next year, I will send off a sample to test the pH.

This morning, I strung up nameplates for each variety and planted the roots.
Here is the northerly view and this stand of pine trees will provide a windbreak from the fierce winds we get. What you cannot see is just off the left is an enormous Live Oak tree which will give the bines ample shade from the late afternoon sunlight.

So, once we get some green growth, I'll post updates. This could end up being nothing more than a folly but if that is the case, I'll have 4 obelisks to use elsewhere.

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