To all of our Co-Op participants! As summer is starting to slip away, you know what that means… it’s almost harvest time! We’ve decided on the date of Saturday, September 16th. All of you co-op participants (past and present) who have seen any half-decent cone growth so far, please make sure to mark this date on your calendar. We will be accepting all sizes of cone yield that morningfrom 9:30 until noon, which is when our brewer and (Co-Op manager) Zach, will be starting the brew! Our Tasting Room will be open a bit earlier than usual to help accomate all of you thirsty gardeners! Stay tuned for some updated photos…

***We thank you all so much for participating in this ever-growing co-operative to help us create a super unique fresh hop IPA that is sure to tantalize the taste buds. A special thanks to all who have shared their photos and challenges alike through facebook and email. Though we may not have had a chance to respond, rest assured we are seeing all your notes and truly appreciate your efforts!***

*In case any of you have missed our latest email, here are the details you need to know as well as some tips on harvesting:

We need those hops to be as fresh as possible in order to achieve the flavours and aromas we are hoping for, and since we have very limited storage space, it is very important that we can get these hops cut and brought in to us the same day the beer is brewed! Below, I’ve included some notes on harvest time for your reference (most of which can be found in the Manualfesto). Now we of course realize that there is never a perfect day for everyone, so if this plan does not work for some of you, we have a few tips for keeping the hops fresh for a few days before bringing them to us. If you are sure that, even though you can arrange a slightly earlier time to harvest, you still won’t be able to bring them in on that Saturday, please let us know, and perhaps we can arrange for an alternative plan. *Important note: We cannot accept hops after the September 16, 12pm deadline.

*A few notes on harvesting tactics to help you (and us) out:
•Hop cones that are ready to harvest will be a lighter shade of green than when they first sprouted and will have begun to dry and possibly slightly browned. The resin glands start to really work their magic and lower the flower’s moisture content in order to create that aromatic, sticky hop resin that we are looking for. It is important not to get over-zealous and harvest too early! Please harvest on or as close to the 16th as possible.
•For ease of harvest, and also for the benefit of the plant’s survival into next year, a great approach is to begin by cutting the vines right down at their base with a pair of scissors or shears. You can cut right to the ground, as the plant’s root systems will produce new shoots from the crown next spring.
•You can then begin picking and snipping the mature hop cones from the cut vines. Almost like a berry, you’ll want to completely separate the cone from its stem and the rest of the plant material. Some cones may have developed small brown spots from exposure to wind, which is just fine, but be sure to discard any fully brown or mouldy/aphid-ridden cones with the rest of the vines etc.
•Once harvested, the cones are UV sensitive (meaning they react to sunlight and can spoil rather quickly this way), so be sure to store and transport your harvested hops away from the light (a paper or foil bag works great).
•All of that excess plant material you trimmed away makes great compost or can be discarded as plant/garden waste through your local waste facility.
•If you must harvest sooner than the chosen date, we recommend laying the hops out on a tray or screen in a dry, warm, and perhaps darkened room (certainly out of the sun). Keep an eye on them and make sure to turn them regularly to ensure they do not mould or wilt. (For example, Zach told me that he used to process his fresh hops on a screen in his spare bedroom with a space heater and all the blinds closed.)We recommend to not harvest more than a day or two in advance to ensure the highest yield possible.

*Some thoughts on our own plants for your reference:

Coming back from my time away, I noticed that our plants have been struggling a little in the muggy and smoke-y heat we saw through most of this month. Some plants who had multiple climbing vines had a few of their smaller vines totally dry out and die, while some seemed to do perfectly well! Even our healthiest and fullest plants, though, still have some seriously yellow leaves near the bottom. From what I understand, this is quite normal. As we spoke about before, the upper portion of the plant (meaning the top third or so) is where the majority of the plant’s lateral vines end up growing (which is where the hop cones grow if they have enough nourishment) and so it seems to me that much of the plants’ energies are focused on the upper and not the lower. It’s really neat to see, though, that despite those struggles, some of our stronger plans are doing really well on cone-production! I am seeing that they have lots of small, tight, bright green cones on their upper thirds and their laterals are very curly and whimsical! I will have to get my camera out to capture that growth very soon.

The lower section of most of our plants seemed to be more susceptible to insects as well, leaving some leaves almost translucent with insect bites—thank goodness for ladybugs! Unfortunately, I did see that some of our smaller plants, who were struggling in the spring to take hold of our wiring, didn’t end up growing tall enough to start climbing and forming proper laterals for cones. These plants don’t seem to be unhappy, but I don’t believe they will be producing any hops this year. Some of them never took hold of their wires at all and just spread out like crazy, vine-y bushes all along our garden—it’s a hop jungle in some places! So, everyone, please don’t feel defeated if your plants didn’t do so well this year! Even if your plants (like some of ours) don’t end up yielding any cones, you can consider this an establishing growth year, and you (and they) will very likely have a much better time next year!

With all that said, we are curious to hear all of your thoughts on how your plants did this year. We would love to hear any feedback you might have on our ‘Manuelfesto’ and any new tips or tricks you may have learned along the way. Did you struggle with insects more than you had anticipated? Did any of your vines die in the heat of this summer, too? Did you plant(s) yield any cones at all?