Soil Makeover – Hop Garden Preparation

Holy Moly its been awhile!  Please forgive me but its been a wild few months…we officially have three kiddos under 5 yrs old!

Updates are over due….

I made the executive decision to skip the 6-row grain plantings/seedings this winter.  There were two factors that played into this decision:

  1. Rain Rain & more Rain.  This winter was extremely wet and after last years rainy season destroyed my hopes and dreams of harvesting grain, I never was able to pull the trigger to seed this winter.
  2. Warm Weather.  In south Louisiana we barely got below freezing this year.  I only had 6 days/nights where temps got below 31° on the farm.  Which is crazy considering last year was the year of perpetual freezing rain.   If you remember from my previous post temperatures must consistently be in the low 40’s for barely seed to germinate.

garden-soil

So this brings us to the beginnings of Hops Season or at least Hop preparation season.  I expect the hops to begin sprouting sometime within the next month, so we must prepare our soils.  True hop gardeners rarely refer to soil as simply dirt.  You must understand the difference between the stuff you dig up in your backyard versus the ‘gold’ that consist of compost, manure, organic matter, and beneficial microbes that are actively at work underground….feeding your hopes and hops.

  • Texture
  • Structure
  • Drainage

Soil Texture:  refers  to the percentage of moss, sand, silt, and clay within the ‘dirt’.  Ideally, you want to have an equal amount of each.  When these are proportionate, the soil is noted to be loamy.  Great texture allows root spread, retained moisture, and air to exist between particles.

Soil Structure: is how moss, sand, silt, and clay fit together in this matrix.  Good structure is evident when the soil holds together when squeezed but breaks down when disturbed.  Blending and trial-n-error is the fun part!

Soil Drainage: is in my option the most important aspect to hop growth, especially in a place like Louisiana, where hops aren’t supposed to grow here.  Hold to much water and you risk drowning your friends….Hold to little and the summer heat will burn them to the ground.  Having positive flow along the hop trellis as well as away from the hop trellis is key, as is hosting the proper soil structure for retaining moisture.  BTW moisture is retained in the organics, moss, and “dirt”.  They all play a part in retaining, flowing, and keeping your hops alive. A symbiotic relationship at its finest!!!

Manure: as mentioned previously my chickens mulch bed will be used as fertilizer.  It’s one of the main reasons I even deal with those pests, lol. Within the next couple weeks I’ll rake out the chicken coup/ run to use the byproduct as my hop focused fertilizer. Nitrogen Nitrogen Nitrogen is your hops best friend!

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Understanding your soil is a gardeners best friend. Regardless of your current soil texture, structure, or tilth, you can change what you already have.   “Soil Makeover.”

Side Note: I’m working on my second sour beer. This one is a classic base Amber with Brett and Lacto introduced after initial fermentation.

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Happy Gardening, Brewing, and Beer Consuming. I’ll see you soon.
Cheers!

East Happyland Round

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