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Grow Your Own Organic Beer Garden of Hops & Herbs

By on November 13, 2013

Tricia has a beer on the deck while planning her own beer garden.

What makes beer taste so good? It’s the sweet malt combined with a mixture of different hops and herbs!

Hops can be bitter, aromatic or both (“dual purpose”). We have some of each of those kinds of hops for you to grow, along with unusual herbs. Hops grow from rhizomes you plant in the spring and shoot up, covering almost 25 feet by the end of summer. Talk about positive reinforcement for your planting effort! Our hops rhizomes are female and will produce the flowers (“cones”) used to brew beer. Before you harvest the flowers you can enjoy their fragrance as they’re draped around your backyard. That hoppy perfume in the air will give new meaning to the expression “beer garden”.

In our new video, Tricia shows you the first steps in brewing beer (the later steps are coming soon in a sequel video). She uses our Deluxe Beermaking Kit, and our Cheesemaking Thermometer that clips to the side of the cooking pot. She bought the malt, grains, hops, and yeast from a local brewing supply store—and she’s growing her own hops to use next year! Want to join Tricia in starting your own hop yard? Then keep reading!

Choose the Hops That Flavor Your Favorite Kind of Beer

Are you an India Pale Ale fan? Do you prefer Stout? Flip through our hops selection and you’ll see that each one is recommended for certain beer styles.

Narrow It Down by Your Climate & Growing Season

Hops are tolerant of a range of climates, but they do need consistent irrigation, especially in hot, dry summers.

The Oregon Hops Commission has quite a bit to say about the ideal climate for hops:

A minimum of 120 frost free days are needed for flowering. Direct sunlight and long day length (15 hours or more) is also needed. As a consequence of day length and season length, hop production is limited to latitudes between 35 and 55 degrees. The hop plant requires ample moisture in the spring followed by warm summer weather. In dry climates the hop plant will produce best if supplemental irrigation is provided.

Hop Varieties for All Climates
Cascade
Centennial
Mount Hood
Nugget
Willamette

Hop Varieties that are Best in Mild Climates (But Can Grow in Warm Climates)
Golding
Liberty

Growing Season
Do you live in Minnesota with a short growing season? Choose hops that are ready for harvest in early to midseason. Most of our hops have that harvest time, so they can be raised successfully in many regions. If you have the luxury of a long growing season, go ahead and add hops that are late harvest.

Give Your Hops Bine Something to Climb

Hops thrive when they have something to climb. While commonly called vines, hops plants are actually bines that grow by wrapping themselves around a support, instead of by producing tendrils. Our thick Hemp Twine is an ideal guide for the bine—it’s sturdy enough to support the bines as they grow (and grow) but it’s also biodegradable—that’s handy come harvest time, when you’ll want to cut down the hops bines in one fell swoop, instead of picking the flowers one-by-one.

Hops Are a Wonder for Edible Landscaping

“Grow this vine for the ornamental power it wields. ... And then there are the green flowers—hanging papery lanterns of chartreuse bracts that flutter in the wind. Be still my beating heart.” Sounds like the author of The Edible Front Yard likes growing hops!

Do you have an arbor or pergola where you’d like shade in the summer?

Plant hops in the spring and they’ll zoom up and give you summer shade—and even if you don’t harvest them for brewing, they’ll die back in the autumn to let the winter sunshine in. Hops are almost invariably described as “vigorous”, which is horticulture-speak for “stand back and watch this one take over!”

If you don’t have an arbor or pergola, get out the hammer and nails and make a home for this easy grower. We give you details about cultivating hops in our Planting and Growing Guide that we ship with each hops rhizome.

Herbs From Your Garden Make Unusual Homebrews

Hops are just one of the herbs that can be used in making beer. If you’d like to branch out to other herbs, these are suggested by the brothers who wrote The Homebrewer’s Garden:

Bittering Herbs
Horehound
Sage
Milk Thistle
Yarrow
Clary Sage

Flavoring Herbs
Hyssop
Borage
Lemon Balm
Marjoram
Thyme

Aromatic Herbs
Lavender
Chamomile
Bee Balm
Elder flowers
Rosemary

More Information About Homebrewing & Hops

The Homebrewer’s Garden is an outstanding resource book for the nuts and bolts of growing, harvesting, and using hops. Plus it has brewing recipes especially formulated for homegrown ingredients.

If you’re really into DIY then Building Homebrew Equipment is your book! It teaches you how to construct a rolling carboy carrier, a carboy stand, immersion wort chillers, counterflow chillers, mash tuns, and keg systems.

Grow organic hops and herbs, then create your own distinctive beer!

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