Hops growing - wicking beds

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merlin032

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Greetings, who has tried wicking beds and how did they work out? What did you do/use? I know they're not ideal for deep-rooted perrenials, but I've seen a couple of posts here reporting good results. I'm tempted to give them a crack because the IBC beds will fit perfectly in the space I have available. Cheers.
 

Grmblz

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Hops are in 205L plastic drums cut in half or fabricated colour bond pots lined with plastic sheet, vege patch is old bathtubs, waist height so no bending/kneeling required.
OK, so wicking beds are really just big self watering pots, and are usually half filled with gravel or scoria which is then covered with geo-tech fabric before adding the soil, you need quite a bit of depth to get any reasonable amount of water storage, it's also fairly expensive, and a massive pain to clean out when the time comes to move or maintain.
My solution is to use ag pipe https://www.bunnings.com.au/reln-stretch-ag-pipe-100mm-x-8m-slotted-and-socked_p4770281 coil it up, and cover with geo-tech, use the 50mm for smaller containers, very little space is taken up by the pipe compared to gravel/scoria, so the water reservoir using 4" pipe is probably equivalent to a couple of feet or more of gravel, plus when the time comes it's just a matter of removing the dirt, lifting out the geo-tech, and you're done, no barrow loads of gravel to contend with.
Push the geo-tech down between the ag pipe for better wicking (although to be honest I haven't noticed any difference)
Very important is drainage, if it pisses down you can easily end up with plants in a pool, and like us they will eventually drown.
I have a 1/2" hole drilled into the side of the containers level with the top of the ag pipe, and a short length of black plastic irrigation pipe going through that hole into an open end of the ag pipe (sorry if that's confusing, it's easier to draw than explain, bugger it, see terrible pdf drawing) it's then covered with the geo-tech.
Herbs is an old drinking trough from a primary school, a few bits of pipe and some 50mm ag pipe, set up just outside the kitchen for commonly used stuff like parsley, thyme, tarragon etc I've included it to show just how little depth you need when using pipe instead of gravel, height of summer no rain, and full of plants it gets watered (via the fill tube left hand side of Herbs 1) once a week.
IBC's are about 900mm high, the same as my 205L, which are chopped in half and have a single layer of 100mm ag pipe, if I was doing it with IBC's I'd be inclined to just chop the top off and use a double layer of 100mm ag pipe, this would give you 600mm-700mm of soil depth, and a heap of water reservoir, four rhizomes per container would be about right imho.
This isn't the only solution obviously just my way of doing it, but I hope it gives you something to think about.
Cheers G
 

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merlin032

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thanks for the detailed info, appreciated. looks like i might be too late to plant them this year, anyway, gives me time to work out the setup for next time.
 

Grmblz

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thanks for the detailed info, appreciated. looks like i might be too late to plant them this year, anyway, gives me time to work out the setup for next time.
Don't know where you are located but you really need a temperate climate for hops, that being said June/July is when you need to buy your rhizomes, not all hops will do well no matter where you are so my approach was to put as many in as I thought I might use, then delete the ones that didn't like my location (900mtrs from the ocean) many new varieties are unavailable so the new citrus etc are purchased as pellets, but the bulk of bittering, and some classics are easily grown.
Water is the big one, they need a lot of it in our climate (wicking beds are perfect and if like me you are on tank water it will save a heap)
Soil: plenty of organic matter, easy if you're rural (wander around collecting horse/cow/chicken shit) suburban back yard think good potting mix with composted cow poo and dynamic lifter (chicken shit) Bunnings is your friend.
Fwiw, 1st yr just let em go, 2nd yr trim to 2 or 3 bines (shoots) and train (a few cones, a brew or 2) 3rd yr 4 bines and a reasonable harvest.
When they die off in Autumn trim all bines to about 6" (150mm)
In spring cut all first arrivals (they will produce fewer cones than later arrivals)
Gumtree is a good source for rhizomes (check on AHB as well) start looking in June and expect to pay $10 to $15 ish per rhizome.
Good luck, it doesn't really save you a lot of money but there's something very special about a brew that's used fresh cones that you've grown yourself.
 

kadmium

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Great info! Love the setup you have. Looks idyllic
 

S.E

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Greetings, who has tried wicking beds and how did they work out? What did you do/use? I know they're not ideal for deep-rooted perrenials, but I've seen a couple of posts here reporting good results. I'm tempted to give them a crack because the IBC beds will fit perfectly in the space I have available. Cheers.
I use half plastic drums and a bath as wicking beds, similar to Grmblz set up but I only have about 12cm of gravel or blue metal at the bottom and a short length of ag pipe connected to a fermenter tap on the drums and a tank connector as a riser pipe from the bath plug hole.

The drums and bath don’t store a huge amount of water but they don’t really need to. As they are raised off the ground I put 20L buckets under the taps to catch excess rain water and pour it back in as needed or whenever passing when growing watercress or water spinach.

I was given and planted hop rhizomes in August this year. Planted some in the ground and the rest in wicking beds. Well actually they are a sort of cross between wicking beds and Hugelkultur raised beds as I didn’t use blue metal but filled the bottom with rotted wood instead.

I picked the best looking rhizomes and planted them in barrels but had a few not so healthy looking ones that I planted in wicking hugelkultur broccoli boxes.

At the moment the ones in the ground are not doing very well but the ones in the barrels are doing pretty well, one is about 7 metres high. The broccoli boxes are also doing well and what surprises me is one of them is the second tallest about 5 metres high so far.

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watHop

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Great info. This is what I was just looking for and a few photos of hops growing to compare to my first year hop plants. If you can see in my photos do you need to do anything with the longer vines coming of the main bine. There is a fair few at the bottom so u put another stick in for the vines to go up rather then laying on the ground. I only had 2 main bines come through 2 on one plant and one on the other.
 

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Grmblz

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Great info! Love the setup you have. Looks idyllic
Thank you, 5 acres far south coast NSW, orchard fully netted or you're feeding the flying foxes, and split in two so the ducks and chickens stay with the fruit trees (dwarf root stock) and don't dig up the vege's, couple rows of grapevines, bee hives (mead) and pollination, scaffold (two storey repaint) and 900 mtrs from the ocean, 5 1/2 yrs of renovating/building paid for by 10yrs in PNG (don't ask) almost finished, a paved area to construct, 2 bathrooms to reno (3 already done) we're a dual occupancy set up for Air BnB, so a bathroom each for the 2 x 2 beddy BnB's, and 3 in the main house, who the F**k designs a 3 bedroom house with an ensuite in every bedroom? All right I admit it, but then I'm done, just in time to die probably, could have made sooo many beers/fine scotches, but where's the fun in that?
Someone punch me in the head please.
 

Grmblz

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Great info. This is what I was just looking for and a few photos of hops growing to compare to my first year hop plants. If you can see in my photos do you need to do anything with the longer vines coming of the main bine. There is a fair few at the bottom so u put another stick in for the vines to go up rather then laying on the ground. I only had 2 main bines come through 2 on one plant and one on the other.
For the first year I'd just let them do their thing, you're not going to get much in the way of cones, it's more about developing the rhizome, so let them sprawl or string them up, it makes no difference.
 

kadmium

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Thank you, 5 acres far south coast NSW, orchard fully netted or you're feeding the flying foxes, and split in two so the ducks and chickens stay with the fruit trees (dwarf root stock) and don't dig up the vege's, couple rows of grapevines, bee hives (mead) and pollination, scaffold (two storey repaint) and 900 mtrs from the ocean, 5 1/2 yrs of renovating/building paid for by 10yrs in PNG (don't ask) almost finished, a paved area to construct, 2 bathrooms to reno (3 already done) we're a dual occupancy set up for Air BnB, so a bathroom each for the 2 x 2 beddy BnB's, and 3 in the main house, who the F**k designs a 3 bedroom house with an ensuite in every bedroom? All right I admit it, but then I'm done, just in time to die probably, could have made sooo many beers/fine scotches, but where's the fun in that?
Someone punch me in the head please.
Man that sounds like paradise. Hard work, but I'm sure its worth it!
 

NattyJ

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I use half plastic drums and a bath as wicking beds, similar to Grmblz set up but I only have about 12cm of gravel or blue metal at the bottom and a short length of ag pipe connected to a fermenter tap on the drums and a tank connector as a riser pipe from the bath plug hole.

The drums and bath don’t store a huge amount of water but they don’t really need to. As they are raised off the ground I put 20L buckets under the taps to catch excess rain water and pour it back in as needed or whenever passing when growing watercress or water spinach.

I was given and planted hop rhizomes in August this year. Planted some in the ground and the rest in wicking beds. Well actually they are a sort of cross between wicking beds and Hugelkultur raised beds as I didn’t use blue metal but filled the bottom with rotted wood instead.

I picked the best looking rhizomes and planted them in barrels but had a few not so healthy looking ones that I planted in wicking hugelkultur broccoli boxes.

At the moment the ones in the ground are not doing very well but the ones in the barrels are doing pretty well, one is about 7 metres high. The broccoli boxes are also doing well and what surprises me is one of them is the second tallest about 5 metres high so far.

View attachment 119713 View attachment 119714 View attachment 119715 View attachment 119716 View attachment 119717
I that just a single pole in the ground with two ropes running up? What's the plan to remove them for harvesting? Do you have a ladder/truck to reach? Or does the main pole come down?
 

MHB

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I'm not a hop grower but from what I have read a hop trellis needs to be very tall (up to 6+m).
Apparently most of the flowers grow on what are called the laterals (side shoots off the main bine), if the trellis is too short the laterals don't develop properly and you end up with only a fraction of the crop you would otherwise get.
Just Googled "hop trellis height" there are a bunch of pages there to read. If you are going to go to the trouble of growing hops you might as well get as much as you can.
Mark

Just doing some quick reading, been more than a few years since I studied hop growing as part of the raw materials module, but the following sound about right from memory.
I liked this one Selecting the right trellis...
And this one Selecting best hop poles...
M
 

NattyJ

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Cheers. Yeah mine are first year so using this that my brewing partner built for me:

I was interested in how he gets his down as well.

Thanks for links.

Always looking to learn more
 

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S.E

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I that just a single pole in the ground with two ropes running up? What's the plan to remove them for harvesting? Do you have a ladder/truck to reach? Or does the main pole come down?
It has 4 ropes and 1 black paracord. I added the paracord a week or so ago as I had taken cuttings from the others and they have started growing.

I had to make my trellis in a hurry so just used what I had to hand which happened to be an old trampoline I had dismantled. The poles that held up the trampoline side net are 115cm long sections that slot into each other 90cm so the 6 sections above ground level are 106cm each so over 6 metres.

I used a couple of the u bolts from the trampoline welded to the top for the ropes to thread through so the hops can be hoisted up or down for harvesting etc. Another couple u bolts partially straightened out are welded lower down the pole to tie the rope off. I Duct taped the pole sections together just in case a strong wind lifted the hops and pulled the sections apart.

Not the prettiest design but quick cheap and functional (at least so far). The wife isn’t impressed at all, thinks it’s an eyesore.

One design flaw I’m a bit worried about is the rope may wear through and break blowing in the wind and rubbing on the u bolts. I did consider using pullies instead but that would have meant a 20 minute round trip to Bunnings and didn’t really fit in with the ghetto design. I can lower the ropes periodically to inspect for ware.
 

S.E

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I'm not a hop grower but from what I have read a hop trellis needs to be very tall (up to 6+m).
That’s what I had read and thought just over 6 m should be enough but one of the hops reached the top so I had to lower them all down and add another section of tube. A few days later it had almost reached the top again so I lowered the bastard down and snipped the top shoot off.
 

NattyJ

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It has 4 ropes and 1 black paracord. I added the paracord a week or so ago as I had taken cuttings from the others and they have started growing.

I had to make my trellis in a hurry so just used what I had to hand which happened to be an old trampoline I had dismantled. The poles that held up the trampoline side net are 115cm long sections that slot into each other 90cm so the 6 sections above ground level are 106cm each so over 6 metres.

I used a couple of the u bolts from the trampoline welded to the top for the ropes to thread through so the hops can be hoisted up or down for harvesting etc. Another couple u bolts partially straightened out are welded lower down the pole to tie the rope off. I Duct taped the pole sections together just in case a strong wind lifted the hops and pulled the sections apart.

Not the prettiest design but quick cheap and functional (at least so far). The wife isn’t impressed at all, thinks it’s an eyesore.

One design flaw I’m a bit worried about is the rope may wear through and break blowing in the wind and rubbing on the u bolts. I did consider using pullies instead but that would have meant a 20 minute round trip to Bunnings and didn’t really fit in with the ghetto design. I can lower the ropes periodically to inspect for ware.

Cheers - The trellis in the pic I posted earlier is also thanks to an old trampoline! Square tubing meant it attached to the fence post a bit easier.

Thanks for sharing.
 

watHop

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For the first year I'd just let them do their thing, you're not going to get much in the way of cones, it's more about developing the rhizome, so let them sprawl or string them up, it makes no difference.
Ok that’s easy enough to do. What about in the years to come do these side shoots happen. Do they just creep up the main bine. This is my first go at it so not sure what to expect.
 

Grmblz

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Side shoots "laterals" are where the cones will form, different varieties have different growth habits.
Have a look at the links MHB provided #13
 
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