Follow by Email

Sunday, July 20, 2014

cucumber trellis and hopsyard

The garden hose is set in the middle of a freshly weeded bed of Thai basil and purple kohlrabi as the arc of the water creates a small rainbow with veggies as the pot of gold. As I plucked the few rogue weeds from around the base of the plants, a fledgling came to a confused rest beside me, contemplating if she should hop on one leg or two as she stretched her wings, feeling out the new freedom that she didn't have before. The summer sun is high but the temperature is not. And my dog found something dead to roll in again...

There are quite a few projects in the works. Here's what's going on.

Corina in the cucumber arbor with nasturtium
First, the cucumber arbor is taking off.

Did you know that in order for cucumbers to actually climb instead of bush out, you need to prune them. Shocking for me as well, but Corina and I gathered 'round the Youtube and watched as a Johnny's Seeds employee showed the growing pattern of a cucumber with it's flowers, nodes, and leaves and showed which ones to pinch off as she got hers to grow up single pieces of twine in a high tunnel greenhouse.

Armed with this knowledge, we headed out to the cucumber arbor and started pinching, while scoping out what squash bugs lie under the leaves as well.

When properly pruned, cucumbers can and will indeed climb a trellis, and much to our satisfaction, underneath the pruned layer of leaves, we are harvesting tons of Suyo long cucumbers and miniature whites. The nasturtiums offer more in beauty than they do protection against  the bests that bother the cucumber, but their peppery additions to our salads make them well worth the time in the greenhouse.

Another fun project we have been working on has been the hops.
Jason and I went to a hops growing workshop during the winter workshop season and found out that hops can grow up 25 foot trellises. Hopsyards are usually many of these expensive telephone poles put together into a checkerboard pattern with wires between them. Hops are planted at the bottom and thick twine are run up to the wires 25 foot up.
The initial cost for 1/2 acre of the trellis materials alone would be over $10,000

I do not have $10,000 but I do want to grow hops.

So armed with my new knowledge, I stopped by High Mill on the way back from Wooster and as my dad and I walked the grounds, we found old light posts from days gone by that have outlived their original use.  We also found an old trampoline frame that hadn't been loved in years.

So we put the two together, planting the hops around the base of the circular trampoline frame. We then staked the hops up to the trampoline and then tied twine from the frame up to the top of the telephone pole, labeling the hops varieties as we went. To add to the trellis, we put sunflowers at the base of the hops to provide something additional for them to climb and to restrict the free nutrients to the hungry hops.

It works! Most of the hops made the initial planting shock, preferring the sunflower stalks to the artificial stakes. The sunflowers are now tied to the trampoline frame and the hops are clamoring up the twine.

There's quite a few more project in the works, but I've got to get back out there and start before the heat of the July day kicks in. We are debating what farmer's market to go to as we have more in the ground than we have in a long time. Where would you like to see us?