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VINE * HOPS * HEIRLOOM SEEDS 2014

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HOPS (Humulus lupulus), is a native perennial familiar to those who brew their own beer and ales because it is the unique female flower (cone) which are used as a flavoring, stabilizer and natural preservative. The hops are actually the female "strobiles" of the plant. The hops vines are called bines and are usually grown up strings called a "hopfield" or "hop garden." It is a  wonderful garden decorative that will quickly fill a stout arbor but then die back to its rhizomous roots in winter, only to burst forth again in spring. They can grow as much as 1-3" a day! (You can sit there with your cold glass of ale and watch it grow and contemplate life.) Interestingly, hops belong to the same family as cannabis (hemp). Plant in sun or mostly sun. They do take time to establish to maturity but well worth the investment. If you are a home brewer, one plant of hops can yield up to 1 kg of dried hop flowers or "strobiles" per plant. 50 Seeds (a mix of male and female). PLEASE NOTE: Cannot ship to CA, WA or OR.

MEDICINAL AND OTHER USES: Important: Hops have strong estrogenic properties, so if you are in treatment for breast or ovarian cancer do not ingest hops tea. Hops are used as a flavoring, bittering and stability agent in ales and beers. They have an antibiotic effect that enhances the action of the brewer's yeast. They are also brewed as tea. Hops variety as well as growing conditions will determine whether your hops are sweet or bitter, floral, herbal or citrus, etc. You can't really determine the variety without genetic testing, but it will be a unique flavoring agent. Hops are also used to flavor non-alcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy baked goods, gelatins, puddings, cereal beverages, mineral waters and tobacco. The fragrant hop is also used in the perfume industry. In Belgium, the young bleached tops are eaten as a vegetable. I recently discovered my otherwise hyperactive pooch harvesting my hops. Now I know why he has calmed of late LOL! Romans ate the young shoots like asparagus. In China, Hops are used medicinally to treat leprosy, acute bacterial dysentary and pulmonary tuberculosis. Extracts are used in various skin creams and lotions in Europe, although ironically, many experience contact dermatitis when picking the Hop, so wear protection and don't grow in a high traffic area where folks can accidentally brush against it. I think there is no question that hops have a sedative effect when brewed as a tea (especially in combination with valerian and chamomile), and some believe it to be an aphrodisiac. Finally, dyers use it to produce a fine brown dye.

GROWING TIPS: Provide a cold stratification period for the seeds before planting in 6-8 weeks before last frost inside, or grow in a cold frame and prick out seedlings to successively pot up until ready to plant. Hops like a rich (mix in a lot of compost) soil that has been deeply dug. Plant each pre-started rhizome a couple of feet apart and mulch well in between the plants to prevent weeds and keep moisture in the soil. The seeds you are receiving have been cold-stored so you will want to do that as well if you are not preparing immediately. For best results, refrigerate for 90 days, then mix seeds with moist sand and refrigerate for another 90 days. Then sow seeds in usual way. The vines can be very thirsty, so water frequently, but always let the plants dry out in between, as wet feet will rot the rhizomes. Water only at the base of the plants to prevent disease, and in humid climes, carefully prune off all the leaves from the first couple of feet off the ground to improve airflow. Just the leaves; don’t damage the vines! They can be subject to mildew in rainy climes so be prepared with a natural fungicide. Shoots appear in early spring at which point, after hardening off, you can position outside after all danger of frost in a rich humusy soil providing strong support. You will not get any flowers/strobiles the first spring as the plant will be establishing its rootstock. But in the second Spring, from mid-March to late May, you will see the pretty cones develop from a moist silky feel to being dry and papery. When the edges begin to turn brown they are ready to be picked. Wear gloves as some are sensitive to the plant. Harvest continues over several weeks. Dry the hops well before using. Don't use fresh as the flavor comes with the drying. Best to air-dry in a dark room or in an oven on very low heat for a few hours. One good method for determining if they are dry enough is to weigh the hops after picking and then subsequently. When they weigh 10%-25% of their original weight, they are ready to use. After three years give the vines a light pruning if you are in an area where the climate does not naturally prune and/or division to keep growth vigorous.





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