If you’ve never considered growing hops, here are 4 reasons you might want to add this unique plant to your homestead or backyard!
For our “homesteading Fridays” post this week, we thought we’d share some useful information on a plant that is getting more and more press lately: hops.
Hops are a unique plant indeed, but until recently, you probably never heard much about hops except for as an ingredient in beer. Recent interest in homesteading has brought this ancient plant back into the limelight, as growing hops is a great way to add variety to your garden, feed your animals, and even provide a source of home-made medicinal remedies.
Hops are also a hardy, easy-to-grow plant that does well in many climates – both dry and wet, and are hardy down to Zone 3. They prefer plenty of sun – at least 6-8 hours daily – and grow well on a trellis, providing shade for animals, or garden crops that prefer less sun. (Note: They love to climb, and can grow 20′ or more, so be sure to trellis them on a tall structure!)
The article below shares 4 reasons why you may want to consider growing hops in your backyard or on your homestead:
1. Hops make great shade! Hops can grow up to 25 feet long with thick heavy vines and broad leaves. If you have an area of over-exposure to sun and want to shade the space, hops work very well.
Once established, they start growing before summer arrives and are fully leafed out by peak heat in most locations. In the fall, when the weather is beginning to cool, they die back and allow the sun back in to the site.
Strategically placed hops can provide excellent shade over a pergola or trellis….
2. Hops provide very good animal forage. The plant leaves and the hops (flower) themselves make a great animal feed supplement. I wouldn’t try to have animals subsist on hops alone, but they are a great addition that many believe improve growth performance, feed efficiency, rumen fermentation, efficiency of feed digestion, and anti-microbial activity against E. coli.
3. Hops have many traditional medicinal uses. Hops have been effectively used to help relieve nervousness (anti-anxiety), as a sleep aid, and as an aromatic bitter to aid in digestion and improve appetite.
…Hops have been studied as a replacement for antibiotics in cattle with some success. Hops also display antibacterial properties, which is one of the reasons they are heavily used in brewing beer.
4. Hops are fantastic for use in home brewing of beer and cider. Keep in mind growing your own hops will take some experimentation regarding home brewing. It’s not going to be as scientific as buying hops pellets from brewing-supply companies, but it’s a lot of fun. It might be worth it to run an experiment using commercial hop pellets side by side with a batch of homegrown hops…
In the end, growing hops is fun, easy and rewarding. Even if you have no desire to home brew, consider hops for the many other valuable reasons stated here. If you want to deep dive into growing hops, check out the Hop Grower’s Handbook by Laura Ten Eyck.
Check out the full article at MotherEarthNews.com to learn more…