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Hops in the Landscape

another cold hardy vine

      Here is an example of a plant working winter hours to make for an ornamental display in the landscape. Although hop growers typically cut their vines down come fall, these untouched twinings in our dooryard make for an interesting sight. The off-season often leaves the outdoor world bleak. We would do well to plan for a little something pleasant to look upon in all those cold months. Snow dustings on fences, sculptures, and old stone walls.., and here old viney remnants can really do wonders to warm the soul on a wintery walk.

frozen hops strobile
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Hopping on the Hops Bandwagon

The explosion of the interest in home brewing has kept pace with the explosion of the modern day microbreweries. In a world of consolidation and boring sameness the emergence in the last 2 decades of a plethora of beer choices has flown in the face of the ordinary. Furthermore who would have thought that the next new thing in Americas favorite inebriant would be not the empty sweets of the American powerhouses, but the bitter attitude of the lowly hops. Can you say double IPA?

Riding on this wave has been a resurgence of hops growing, both commercially, and in backyards everywhere. More to come…..

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Warm Climate Grapes in Zone 3 ?

It may not be the thing for the commercial vinyard, and it may not even make sound financial sense, but you really can push the limits with grapes if you want to. Tender grape varieties will need help from you if you live a zone or two out of their range. One is protection from cold damage in winter. The other is making the season longer. Both relate to temperature, and there is the rub. More to come…

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The Grape Harvest

So when are those grapes ready anyway? With table grapes, it isn’t so difficult, but if you are making wine, or are truly trying to be specific there are other methods. A refactometer can be helpful in finding sugar levels (a brix reading). The percentage of acids (in grapes that is generally in the form of tartaric and malic acids) can disguise the true sugar levels.  To make good wines, and really good juices you want as high a brix reading as you can get. More to come….