March 27, 2015 by fhsteinbart
One of the very best things you can do in home brewing circles is to grow your own hops! While we give out hop planting guides, there are a lot of things that are not covered. One of them being the care, maintenance, and upkeep of your hops. For example, most people do not adjust their soil PH. There are many materials to do this with, such as bone meal, compost material, dolomite lime stone, sulfur, wood ashes, and phosphate. After planting your hops you need to identify and correct nutrient deficiencies. The most common kinds of deficiencies are nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, boron, and molybdenum salts. Other considerations are hop pests and diseases. Common pests in hops are the Japanese beetle, spotted cucumber beetle, hop aphid, and spider mites. The best way to clean up pest problems is to use soap. Add one tsp. of non detergent soap to one quart of water. This mixture is best for killing soft bodied insects like aphids and spider mites. My preference is for ivory soap as it is very mild, and it works quite effectively. Common diseases that affect hops are Powdery Mildew, Downy Mildew, Verticillium Wilt and Fusarium Wilt. The most effective treatment of these microbial pests is the use of baking soda spray. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water. Hops should be sprayed as soon as visible fungal diseases are seen on the leaves. Another good practice, is the use of compost tea. Compost tea also known as manure tea, not only feeds your hops, but also helps them fight diseases. Add a shovelful or two of compost or manure to a five gallon bucket and fill it with water. Then add your yeast from a previous fermentation, and allowed to ferment for a few days. It should be the color of weak tea. If it isn’t, either dilute it with water if it’s too dark, or add more compost and or manure if you need to get the right color. Spray this mixture two to three times weekly on your hops to prevent diseases, kill pests, and to provide nutrition for the growing hop plants. By doing all the above things, you will have healthy active growing hops that will provide you much pleasure in brewing beer with your own homegrown hops. The above information was gathered from The Home Brewer’s Garden by Joe Fisher and Dennis Fisher.