If you have been by The Inn at The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, you may have asked yourself what those tall wooden pyramids are all about. They are placed at each end of what appears to be a bed of mulch but clearly something is missing. Many curious minds have inquired and to those who were too shy to ask, I have an answer that will make you feel at ease and maybe even slightly intoxicated....Hops! Humulus lupulus
In the coming weeks we will be working on the trellis system for the Hops. Traditionally, Hops are grown on a trellis at least 20 feet high as they are very vigorous growers....growing up to 1 foot in a day! Farmers may allow 2 strong vines from each plant to grow up the coir twine creating a V pattern along the rows. Once the Hop cones have reached their maturity, the vines are cut down and the precious jewels that is the main ingredients in Americas favorite beverage is harvested. This method of growing will use chemicals for treating pest and disease.
Another method of growing Hops is call the Short Trellis system where the support is only 10 feet high. The Hops may be grown on a strong support (like cattle fence) and trimmed once they reach the top. This allows side shoots to grow and fill the rows like a solid wall. Once the Hop cones reach maturity they are picked from the vine (not cut down) and the plant is allowed to continue growing throughout the season. This is a more organic approach to growing Hops as it allows beneficial insects to colonize and defend the crop from harmful pest invaders for years to come.
With a trellis support peaking a few inches shy of 14 feet we are building a system that is a fusion of the two styles. When the Hops vines are planted in April, you will see the familiar V pattern of the traditional style trellis system. Naturally, we want to take the organic route to growing so when plants reach the top, lateral branching will be encouraged.... And when it comes to harvesting the cones, you won't find us cutting down the vines. We will be picking the hop cones and letting the vines continue to grow.
We selected 3 varieties of Hops for their bittering, aroma and color characteristics; Cascade, Magnum and Golding. Like I said, Hops are vigorous growers so check back often to see the progression of our Hop yard.