Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stringing the Hops

The Maypole Waiting to be Strung
Spring has sprung and it's time for hops to be strung. Along with all the duties of running your own small, nay molecular, business, there are the farmin' duties. We actually strung the hops several weeks ago, before the Oak Grove Funnel Cloud hit. That's another post though. Suffice it to say we sustained no damage.
The hops started emerging in February , early really. March is more usual, and I attribute it to our lack of actual freezing weather this winter. Rain, plenty. Snow, well, not much here in the Oak Grove river valley, or "The Holler" as I like to call it. It has rained buckets, for weeks on end though. Turning my backyard into a muddy, mucky swamp. The garden beds like little islands in the murk. We built a wooden walkway to the shop from the house, it feels very Medieval village but without the feudal system. It's just depressing, and woe betide you if you fall off the wooden path..
As you can see things looks cluttered and needing picked up. Here in The County blue tarps are more than just a way to keep your firewood dry, they are excellent for building temporary structures that require no permitting whatsoever! Although the plan is to build a wooden overhang instead.
That's parsnips in the foreground, waiting for em to eat them. I forget what type, but they are sweet as heck.

The Hubbinator Tying off the Strings
We decided after much debate that the Maypole should be recyled into the hop rack. Every year we hold a May Day hoopla here at the Hof, but since the addition of the pole building there just is no room for such capers. The pole part is a lodgepole pine, that I topped with a lovely red cock, and iron ring for attaching the ribbons. The men would erect the pole, and the women would decorate it with flowers. Well, we decorated it before it went up, I should say. It was a load of fun, and everyone enjoyed themselves, the weather usually cooperated too. So we would have sunshine, warm temps. Usually.
The pole is 20 feet long, or so, and required us to toss the ball of twine back and forth. He'd catch it cut a strand, tie it off, and toss it back. I'd chuck it back to him. Repeating this until we felt we had enough strings attached, and /or got bored.
Note= Ugly teal paint on house was not my idea, we just have never found the time to repaint after we bought it.

Mister Rooster All Ready to Go!
We stuck him in his holder, and raised the pole up. Iam a little sad we won't be using him for our May Day fun, but the hop bines will love this to climb up. The red rooster watches over the property. A perch for flickers, song birds, and the odd Sharp Shinned hawk, who wants to eat the songbirds.

The Pole is up and Ready For The Hops!
You can see we live in a glamorous place. That's or neighbors boneyard for his work trucks and excavation business behind the orchard.
The horse head is what the hops used to be tied off to, but they are mature now, and need some room to run. Plus it will look so cool, living ribbons of green lushness on the Maypole. Or Maibaum as my ancestors called it Germany.
The Hop bines will grow up, and cover the end of the shop. Our hop varieties are Willamette, and I think..Fuggles. I forget it's been awhile..We do use them for breweing, they are organically grown, I use only the finest Welsh pony manure, from happy ponies who grazed along the banks of the mighty Abiqua River. For hop aphid control it's ladybugs who arrive in their hundreds to clean the leaves of pest.Lacewings show up too, and their larvae consume what the ladybugs don't.
The hops are now several feet high, since we took these pics. I'll have to get a shot to insert here.

The Massive Leek.
I leave you with this, the Uber Leek. I know I should eat it, but I can't yank it out yet. I over wintered some leeks, and for some reason this one grew most vigorously. Same soil, same everything, but for some magical reason this one did best. I have to look into the propagation of leeks, can I gather seed from it when it blooms out?
Here's to the Sun coming out here in the NW, so my hops can grow their one foot per day, and I won't go barking mad from lack of sunshine.


Alison said...

According to Steve Solomon, it certainly is possible to save leek seed. I'd be happy to copy and send you the information from "Gardening When It Counts" or let's get together you can read the relevant paragraphs yourself. I miss you folks...

Rachel said...

Hello me again,
went on a wander and found this link about leeks and seeds thought it might be of use. I am no fabby gardener myself so took a shot in the dark.
all the best