Monday, October 19, 2009

Preparing for winter

Despite smashing numerous decades-old temperature records this summer (37.1 C on June 4th, for example) Lillooet's weather continues to surprize with record-setting lows. The blue stalactite-looking spike on October 12th marks a new record low for the area and was a stark reminder of the rapid transition from summer to fall in Lillooet. Less than three weeks ago we were enjoying a +30 C days -- ideal conditions for drying our first harvest of hops (more to come on that topic later this week).
This early cold snap was enough incentive to start moving the potted hop plants indoors for the winter. So we cut the bines and twine from each plant and brought them into our garage where we sandwiched them with layers of peat to maintain steady temperatures and prevent the plants from drying out during the cold, dry winter.

The bines were then separated from the twine, collected and added to the compost pile. While the hops sit dormant over the winter, we will focus on building up a much larger, healthy composting system as our primary source of organic nutrients to the farm.

After a final count of the hop plants, we managed a 89% success rate in propagating rhizomes to their full plant potential. Not surprisingly, the organic Willamette from Left Field Farm faired best with a 99% success rate compared to the other varieties from non-organic sources south of the border. These were treated with a contact fungicide and endured a long transport from south of the border which probably contributed to their lack of vigor. For example, only 56% of Chinooks were successful however those that were propagated produced heaps of hops - thankfully.

It was also a pleasant surprise to see that most Mt. Hood and Cascade plants rebounded from the brink after we fixed the problem in the irrigation lines. At $3.75 per rhizome and countless hours of tending, that could have been a costly error!

No comments:

Post a Comment