Following on with my interest in making beverages. I thought that I would try to grow some hop plants. So I acquired a few specimens of different varieties to try out. They come as rhizomes in the winter when dormant, a bit like bare root hedging.
So to give them a head start I planted them in pots in the greenhouse and put 2 ft canes for them to grow up. My first big mistake, they were at the top of the canes in a couple of weeks, so I put them onto 4 ft canes but they just keep growing. They make Russian vine look like an amateur.
I had never planned where to plant them in the garden. Reading about Kentish hops they grow them up poles or cords about 20 feet tall. This was not a popular choice so a compromise was found planting at the base of fruit trees, as they are about the right height. So now they are heading to the top of the trees at a tremendous rate.
I decided to try traditional English varieties, so we have Fuggles, Challenger, Goldings and Northern Brewer which are all rather large, and as a touch of sanity a dwarf one called Prima Donna which only grows about 2-3 metres tall and is growing up the gazebo.
The different varieties have all been analysed for bitterness and aroma and are used to give different flavours to beer, the ones I am growing are ideal for English Bitter. What about Lager I hear you ask? Well I will probably have a go at a hop called Saaz next winter as this is the Pilzner Lager hop.
The most interesting hop is 'Fuggles', believe it or not a man called Mr Richard Fuggle found a hop in a neighbours garden in the 1860s. He acquired the plant and made a fortune selling Fuggles hop plants to the Kentish hop growers.
There is also a very attractive ornamental golden hop, but its uses are limited to looking pretty.
My only worry now is what to do with the flowers when they are ready!