Strung up hops

As the hop has started growing the stems have fairly quickly reached the point where they need support.

There had been a satellite dish on the side of the house above where the hop planter is now so I was able to re-use a couple of the mounting points for that to put up a wood batten into which I had screwed four eyelets with long stems to hold them clear of the wall.

Hop strings against side of house

I also added four eyelets to the inside of the planter and then ran coir string between them using clove hitches to tie it off.

Hops in container showing strings

The coir string is good for climbers as it has a rough texture that gives them plenty to take hold of.  Rather than the tendrils used by peas and beans the hop stems have very small hooks on the stems that feel almost like velcro and it’s these that hold them onto the strings.

Hooks on stem of Golden Tassel hops

Hop planted

We have a space by the back door that’s south facing and an ideal spot for a climber. Being from Kent I decided to try and see if I could grow a hop in this spot. As a bonus I found a nursery that sells hops a few miles up the valley from where I grew up.

Planter at the corner of the house by the back door

Hops are a rhizome so need space for the roots, from what I’ve read they will grow in containers – provided they are big enough. As this is by the access to the back door space was at a premium so I got two narrow planters, took the bottom off one, and fixed them on top of each other to create more volume. Growing in a container will probably dwarf them and reduce the crop but as I don’t want it growing onto the roof of the house and as I’ve selected an ornamental variety I think it’ll be fine.

The hop comes as a bare root wrapped in moss for protection.

Bare root Golden Tassels hop with moss protection along side

The planter was lined with a bin bag to help protect the wood and the bottom half was filled with topsoil I had for the lawn and the top half with garden centre compost. Then I hollowed out a space for the roots and filled that with compost from the bin.

Golden Tassels hop planted with the crown under the surface of the soil.

Following the hop planting guide, the crown is below the surface of the soil which was then well soaked from the rain water butt.

Now to wait until around April when it should start sending up shoots.

Second compost bin

We’ve now got two compost bins, one (right) is the working bin and the other (left) is the maturing bin.

Two compost bins - left full, right empty

When the working bin is full it is turned over into the maturing bin – i.e. the top of the working bin gets put into the bottom of the maturing bin leaving the oldest compost at the top.  We can use this compost from the top whilst the bottom of the bin continues to compost.  The working bin can then be filled up with new material and the process can be repeated.

Nice compost at the top, ready to use

Big lumps of grass cuttings don’t compost very well, they tend to turn into layers of anaerobic slime.  Normally I try and cut the grass often, taking less than a third off the blades means I don’t have to use a grass box and the cuttings will break down in the lawn giving the nutrients back.  When the grass is growing faster and opportunities to cut it are less – mostly in spring and autumn – then I’ll collect the cuttings, put them in a pile next to the boxes and then put them into the working box in small batches so it gets mixed through.

As a bonus, some of the potatoes we’d put into the compost had grown so we have an unexpected harvest.

Compost heap potatoes