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May's Hop Round Up - Hogs Back Brewery

May's Hop Round Up

May is always a busy old month in the Hop Garden.

Matthew set the seal on stringing the whole hop garden for another year. 

It has taken 6 weeks of solid toil to reach this point!  Over one hundred and file miles of coconut coir have been used up.

Coconut coir to string the hop garden

On the final alley, Matthew gave a live master class on the art of stringing.

Stringing the hop garden

19 gardeners from the Edibles Team and students from the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley joined Matthew for an away-day at the Brewery, keen to learn more about hops.

Matthew was happy to explain how the hop garden has been planted in a specific direction so the hops can follow the path of the sun and to impart some fascinating facts to his visitors:

….how the organic coconut coir from Sri Lanka naturally weathers over time so that it becomes brittle and breaks more easily in September when the bines, still clinging to the coir string, are harvested…..

….the string has to be knotted to stop the whole hop garden unravelling if the string breaks….

….the implement used for stringing is called a monkey…. takes about two and a half hours to string each row....

…all the hops grown here are British and if you want to grow continental hops, you need a special licence.

After stringing, it wasn’t long before they donned gardening gloves to help the Hoppers with “twiddling” or training the hops up the strings.

RHS helpers in the hop garden

After a morning in the hop garden, they were all ready for a pint and a pizza, before heading off on a tour of the Brewery with Steve to learn how the hops are used to make beer and to do some sampling.

RHS helpers twiddling hops

Not only has Matthew been tending the hop garden here at the Brewery since 2014, he has also provided the Farnham White Bine hops growing at the world-famous Hilltop scientific facility at RHS Wisley in Surrey. 

Hoppers twiddling hops

Meanwhile, the Hoppers have been out in force, lending a much-needed hand in twiddling. 

Hoppers drinking beer in the sun

It's not all work and no play!

Super Saturday saw 15 eager Hoppers turn out for several hours.

Hoppers twiddling hops

Over 150 people joined us to bless the hops and beat the bounds of the hop garden. 

Hop blessing

Elsewhere, the ladybirds are out in force in the hop garden, devouring the first of the aphids that have appeared on the hops.

ladybird on hop leaf

The spell of very warm weather has really kick-started the hop growth.  Some of the Farnham White hops are already well above head height! 

hop plants in hop garden

The saying goes that for the hops should be at the top of the wire by mid-summer’s day so we’ll be keeping a close eye on them!

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