Companion planting is a sneaky-smart growing practice of planting different plants in close proximity for a beneficial purpose, often times related to pest management. We decided to give it a go and put some marigolds in with our hops. The logic? Marigolds attract ladybugs. Ladybugs eat aphids, a known hop pest. It's a beautiful idea really. Attracting insects to do your dirty work for you. We'll see how it works in practice. Here's hoping the marigolds prove to be a useful form of natural aphid control!
We FINALLY put in an irrigation system! It has been on our to-do list for weeks. The motivation just hasn't been there though, what with all the rain we've had. The tables turned fast though and our hops got pretty thirsty in the intense heat this week. After one day of watering by hand with a hose, which took (Saul) a pain-staking full two hours, the Griffin Hill team was on the job. We managed to design, purchase, and install a simple drip irrigation system in a day and a half. Working with Belle Terre, it was a breeze! Now that we are all ready for dry heat, surely it will start raining everyday again.
All this talk about hops being fun to grow is true! They are amazing to observe, in large part because they change so fast. The baby plants that went in the ground at the end of June are so tall now. Many have hit our 8-foot top wire already. The nursery is more jungle-like by the day. The plants we started as rhizomes in April are massive. The Chinook sidearms extend into the alleyways between the rows and it's hard not to get entangled while scouting the yard. A particularly exciting development is the beautiful burrs we are seeing on so many varieties: Chinook, Fuggles, East Kent Goldings, the Kerlins (our NY mystery hop variety) and more. We will definitely have cones to brew with this year and are making plans for them already. A September wet hop beer. A series of single hop sessionable IPAs. We can't wait to taste what we are growing! That is the whole idea with this project, really. What does Griffin Hill taste like in a pint glass? Thanks to the lovely burrs, and the cones they will become, we will start to answer that question later this year.