The Bushel of Hops shop is open with 2018 hops. First a really big thank you to everyone who has purchased hops; your custom is truly appreciated. Some varieties are selling out fast, so please be quick if there is one you particularly wish to brew with.
A brief follow up to my September post on the website. That was written right at end of picking, yields were generally lower than
average, which was expected but nevertheless disappointing. Yes it was a testing growing year, especially with very young plants in the ground and no irrigation, they did not thrive but did not die either. But the sunshine and dry weather seems to have put condition into the mature hops, which have been very sticky to package. As always the wonderful scents at packaging are a very pleasant perk of the job. As farmers we are philosophical about the weather, each year brings something different, it’s pointless stressing about something you can not do anything about. However, we are also pragmatic so have already take positive action towards next year’s crop.
It looks as if climate change is a reality, so in September, straight after hop picking we gave some well deserved TLC to the young hops by spreading well rotted manure on the two hop gardens with the young plants in.
I hesitate to call it even well rotted manure because it is so well rotted it is now a soil conditioner, no longer dung! It is almost black, a crumbly dark Bourneville plain chocolate brown, with an superabundance of worms and no dung smell whatsoever. This is for improving the soil by adding more humus, feeding the worms of course and as a mulch to help protect the roots as well as preserve the soil moisture content in any future prolonged dry spell. It is not for nutrients that may or may not be an unintended secondary benefit. For feeding the hops I will use a good quality fertiliser during the growing season as usual. which will be applied as normal next year.
When the rain came the hills shot lots of new very fine shoots with leaves, I am hoping these leaves gave just a little bit back to the plant and any worm action with the mulch helped the roots. With the young plants this year every little helps and even if it did not do much good, it made me feel better by doing something positive! I have yet to cut off the lower bines or ‘straps’ left after harvest. I looked this morning and the sap has now gone, so I will do that in the next fortnight, but again it felt kinder to leave them to sear right back before cutting them off.
So now the Bushel of Hops shop is open with 2018 hops. We have moved on positively planning for next year and already looking forward to spring and seeing new shoots appear.